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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Review: Vampires

Title: Vampires
Author: Joules Taylor
Page Count: 192 pages
Publisher: Spruce
Genre: Paranormal, nonfiction
Copy for review provided by MM Publicity

50 words or less: an illustrated, coffee table-style book about vampires, the history of vampire legends and the roles vampires have played in popular culture.

Although there has certainly been a relatively recent surge in popularity for vampires and the paranormal genre, thanks to stuff like the Twilight juggernaut and the popularity of True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, vampires have made frequent appearances in the world of pop culture for decades at this point. Vampires is simultaneously a sort of history of that cultural presence, a narrative of the myths and legends that surround vampires, and a visual presentation of the various appearances vampires have made in print, on TV and in film.

Easily my favorite parts of this book were the beautiful illustrations and the references to books and movies. The layout of the pages is very well done and complements the text very nicely. The historical content was interesting but brief; I would have appreciated more information on those subjects but that may be because I have a personal interest in that area.

There's also a very interesting section on vampire myths from around the world, and it was neat to see how some elements of the myth we know today actually originated in other cultures. I would have been interested in hearing more about that as well; the for further reading section at the end may very well have resources for that.

I also appreciated that the author didn't wax too academic in the writing of this book. Although writing about a real subject, the author had an almost wry writing style that kept the subject matter from getting too, for lack of a better word, boring. I was reminded of a conversation I had awhile ago with a friend who was perpetually annoyed by the Twilight phenomenon:

Friend: I remember when vampires were scary and murderous!
Me: I remember when vampires were...made up!

This book would make a nice gift someone who was new to the paranormal genre or for someone who already had an appreciation for the genre but was interested in finding new books or moviews on the same subject. Although I was already familiar with a lot of the lore the book contained, reading it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Overall Grade: B+

Blog With Bite

Just in case you missed it, Blog with Bite is giving away FOUR COPIES of Vampires as well as four copies of the book Werewolves, which will also be reviewed here. Stop over and enter, the contest ends October 31st so there's still some time! Have fun!

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