GS. vs. STA: Vampire Romance Done Differently

Bitchery reader Jennifer is a student at Davidson College who is focusing her research on the romance genre, and she comes to the Bitchery with a query.

She’s looking for vampire romance, specifically those that do ti differently, or did it over but better the second time:

I’m putting together a list of what I think are vampire romances that are both representative of the genre and ones that break, subvert, or rewrite vampire romances.  But I’m afraid I’m going to leave an important book out!

Is there any way you could get a thread started so I could mine the brains of your readers for suggestions?  I’m looking for romances that are both representative of the vampire romance genre, and those who break away from it.

If you doubt the mad power of Jennifer’s brain, take a look at her online essay Intertextuality and the Vampire Romance. A key quote in her examination of the “Death and the Maiden” motif in art, and the sexuality and inevitability inherent in those portrayals:

On another note, how eerie is it that the Death and the Maiden Paintings echo some romance novel covers in the way the two figures are positioned? Am I the only one seeing the similarity?

Do you know how hopping-in-my-chair giddy it makes me to see the power of big brainfulness applied to the themes of romance, especially when they are so intrinsically linked with similar themes in art and other subgenres of fiction? WORD TO YOU, JENNIFER.

So anyone got any ideas of vampire romances she absolutely should not miss, the ones that subvert the genre and/or the themes within it?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    MaryKate says:

    Well, I’d say that Lara Adrian’s vamps are totally different than most vampires. They’re in actuality aliens. But she’s got a very well laid out mythology that she sticks to. It’s an interesting take on the vampire myth (sort of).

    Then of course, there’s Ward. Her vamps are a different species and can only feed from vamps of the opposite sex. They can drink human blood, but it doesn’t do much for them sustenance-wise.

    I’m not sure if that’s what she’s looking for, but those are two that occurred to me.

  2. 2
    lesia says:

    Darkangel – Meredith Ann Pierce – when I was in high school this was the epitome of “but I can change him” bad boys.

  3. 3
    Elizabeth says:

    I know its not romance in the strictest sense but I always think of Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” when I think of a less than typical depiction of vampires.
    There’s also “Bloodsucking Fiends” and “You Suck” by Chris Moore which are somewhat comical take on vampires but still romance novels.

  4. 4
    Lizzy says:

    A second for Sunshine by McKinley.

  5. 5

    In YA, EVERNIGHT by Claudia Gray has some awesome, awesome genre-bending of what seems at first like an ordinary teen vampire book, first person heroine.

    Joey Hill did gender-role reversal in THE VAMPIRE QUEEN’S SERVANT.

    P.N. Elrod has a series of vampire mysteries set in 1930s Chicago, with an ongoing romance.  Her vampire hero is a lot different from the general run of Immortal Alphas.

    Scott Westerfeld’s PEEPS, also YA, has vampires caused by parasites.

    Emma Holly does the “vampires are aliens” thing, too—her vampires can change shape, as well.

  6. 6
    Randi says:

    The Blood books by Tanya Huff; mystery noir with a romance subplot.

    And how about Joey Hill’s, A Vampire Queen’s Servent?

    thats95: no way; I can’t think of 95 vampire romances that buck the genre.

  7. 7
    Marita Klements says:

    I don’t know if it would fit into the romance genre, or even entirely the book category, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my favorite atypical vampire mythology, now stars in a number of graphic novels.

  8. 8
    Julie Leto says:

    Kresley Cole has an original mythology to her vamps in her Immortals After Dark series.

  9. 9
    LenaB says:

    Look into some of the urban fantasy novels that are pseudo-romance – Kim Harrison, Laurell K Hamilton, and Christine Feehan’s Carpathian vampire books.

  10. 10
    RfP says:

    Vamps as The Mob (or something similar) -

    Version the ancient, Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series
    Version the modern, Susan Sizemore’s Prime series

  11. 11
    Gemma says:

    I see that Joey W Hill’s The Vampire Queen’s Servant already has two mentions. It also has a sequel: Mark of the Vampire Queen. I was reading one of them last night. *bliss*

  12. 12
    scigirl2525 says:

    Angela Knight’s vampires started off as King Arthur and his knights of the round table and were transformed by (alien) Merlin into immortal vampires symbiotic with their women, magical Majae (not vampires).  The women are just as strong as the men and they go around transforming their descendants into vampires/majae through sex.  Interesting mythology all around.

  13. 13
    EmmyS says:

    Lynsay Sand’s Argeneau series is different, in that vampirism is based in science.

  14. 14
    Marta Acosta says:

    Uhm, well, my Casa Dracula series aren’t romances, but they are romantic comedies and academic types have said words like “subvert” and “reinvent” about them. 

    AP quoted me in a story about Anne Rice last week, so I’m totally like a nationally renowned official expert now.  Ask me anything.

  15. 15
    Hortense Powdermaker says:

    The Death and the Maiden theme is an interesting juxtaposition of the vampire trope, where getting bit by a vampire confers immortality on the bitee or, in some cases, brings the bitee back from the dead. (I’m thinking of Erin McCarthy’s Sucker Bet, where the female vamp resurrects the hero.)

    Endless orgasms plus immortality – what’s not to like?

  16. 16
    Rainbow Jen says:

    I always thought Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire (YA) were interesting takes on the origins of the species, rooting it in a sort of Hindi-Buddhism. I really loved them as a teen, and think they’d be an interesting addition, given the age group they’re meant for.

  17. 17
    MaryKate says:

    AP quoted me in a story about Anne Rice last week, so I’m totally like a nationally renowned official expert now.  Ask me anything.

    Marta – I totally squee’d when I read that. You so ARE the renowned expert!

  18. 18
    percy a ashe says:

    IMO, Devyn Quinn does interesting things with the traditional vampire in her Kynn books. Might also look at Embracing Midnight, which is an alien/otherworld species of vamp.

  19. 19
    Lita says:

    I am surprised that no what has yet mentioned Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint Germain.  “Hotel Transylvania,” despite its seemingly lurid title, starts off the very long running series (2008 is the 30th anniversary of that book) about a vampire who is more humane than most humans.  CQY has written 22 books focusing solely on St. Germain, plus another six featuring ancillary characters.  A 23rd will be published this year. 

    For the uninitiated, the vampire named Ragozcy Francescus Saint-Germain was born in Wallacia over 2000 years before the birth of Jesus, and the books follow him from Neronian Rome (Blood Games) to the America in the 1930s (Midnight Harvest), although one of the ancillary books has an extended reference to his life as a priest in ancient Egypt (Out of the House of Life), and another covers his birth and early years of “undeadness” (Dark of the Sun).

    The wonderful thing about all of the Saint-Germain books is the thorough and impeccable research, but the essential character of Saint-Germain is never forgotton, or inconsistently portrayed.

    The original concept of the vampire Saint Germain on a real person, a nobleman of the same name in the court of Louis XIV who claimed he was and alchemist and an immortal.  In fact, much of the detail in Hotel Transylvania reflect this character.  CQY also merged in aspects of the composer St. Germain (about whom very little is known) into her own creation.

    There are a lot of traditional “vampiric” aspects to Saint-Germain, shuch as he has no reflection and can only tolerate sunlight when on his native soil, although I don’t think garlic has any particular negative effect.  He can drink blood from sleeping women, making the activity an extremely pleasurable dream, but he cannot have an erection (although an early book, Path of the Eclipse, alludes to the possibility if enough blood is consumed).  He does not drink blood from other vampires either (again, the early books refer to a time when it was possible to do so).

    Perhaps one could argue that the Saint-Germain novels are not romances, and would not qualify for Jennifer’s research, but I would state otherwise.  Underneath all of the history and the tragedy (there is a lot of that) is the character’s principal motivation for his continued existence – Love.

    CQY maintains an excellent website, with listings of all of the Saint-Germain books, in both order of publication and chronological order.

  20. 20
    Saltypepper says:

    It’s not a romance, but Octavia Butler’s last novel, Fledgling, is a very different vampire novel.  I am only sorry she died before she could write any more books set in this world.

  21. 21

    I love PC & Kristin Cast’s YA vampire romance.  Though I suppose it’s not 100% romance, since Zoey is the main protaganist and it’s told from her POV.  But they are some of the best YA books I’ve ever read.  :)

  22. 22
    DS says:

    To add to the not-a-romance-but-I-recommend-it Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot in which the Vampires have a very interesting role intertwined with mysticism and alchemical imagery.  Second Yarbro’s St. Germaine.  He is a remarkably decent monster always at risk from humanity’s baser parts.

  23. 23
    RfP says:

    CT Adams has an unusual take—vampires as a hive, ruled by a queen.  She bites people to lay her eggs in their flesh; when the critter hatches, it crawls through the bloodstream and wraps itself around the ganglia or something of the sort.  Quite disgusting.  Those bitten become part of the herd = mind-controlled snacks on the hoof.

    Last I checked in on the series, the heroine was wearing a neck protector and making time with a werewolf.

  24. 24
    Staple says:

    I’m going to third Sunshine by Robin McKinley.

    EE Knight has a different take of vampires in his vampire earth series, but they aren’t really romance, so you probably wouldn’t be able to do anything with them.

    Ilona Andrews’s Magic Bites and Magic Burns series has an interesting take on vampires too. It has a romantic element in it, but not with regards to vampires.

    The Queen Betsy series by MaryJanice Davidson is definitely a vampire romance, but it is a lot lighter than say Feehan’s Carpathian series.

    Don’t know how much that’ll help, but that’s just my two cents.

    P.S. A true “Death and the Maiden” book would be the YA book Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

  25. 25

    I’d second Lita’s mention of Yarrbto’s St Germaine.
    And while the books not romance sin the conventional senses, IMO a hero who only receives full sexual pleasure by giving it, is pretty romantic .

  26. 26
    Ezri says:

    No one’s mentioned Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books, but I think they’d probably also fall into the category of a non-traditional vampire series.  Kenyon’s created a whole mythology for the series which takes the general mythological tradition we’re used to and turns it on its head.  The “vampire” characters get the teeth and the ability to drink blood, but only a couple of them actually need blood to survive.  I think the mythological backstory to the series sets it apart from the usual vampire genre.

  27. 27
    Cat Marsters says:

    For a series of romances that reinvented the vampire hero, look at Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters.  After endless tortured, brooding woe-is-me types, she wrote vampires who “are the scary things that go bump in the night. And we love every minute of it.”  (from her website).

    I’ve read so many ‘mad bad and dangerous to know’ vampires since that I’m getting kind of bored with them (especially since most of them consider wearing leather and having a tattoo to qualify them for the above) but I think this was one of the first, and pretty refreshing at the time.

    I haven’t read the Gardella Chronicles (on my TBR list) but a historical series has got to make a change from all the rest?

  28. 28

    I forgot these sf examples, all of which play with tropes and with romance:

    FLEDGLING by Octavia Butler (and her earlier book, WILD SEED, which features a vampire who drains life rather than blood)

    THE MADNESS SEASON, by C.S. Friedman

    THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY, by Suzy McKee Charnas

  29. 29
    Jenica says:

    I think Amanda Ashley wrote a lot of classics, before vamps were all in style.  I didn’t read a lot of them, but I think a classic theme was redeeming a lost soul with the love of a heroine – in the newer books, we just convert her with nanos or Carpathian blood.  Sherrilyn Kenyon sort of continues this theme with the heroine restoring the soul.  Charlaine Harris’s world is certainly engrossing – some detailed government/culture as well.  I also remember enjoying Katie MacAlister’s vamp stories.  I feel like the novels where the vampires are aliens/different race/nanos, etc. were initially a departure from the classic soulless undead mythology, but they all seem alike to me now. MaryJanice Davidson’s series (which I’ve never adored, honestly), seemed to be a departure in the attitude and experiences of the heroine.  One review that caught my interest recently was for a female vamp that didn’t have superpowers – just an amplified aura that aroused protective instincts.  That seemed like a departure from the classic super strength, hearing, telepathic abilities.  Sorry I don’t remember the title!

  30. 30
    Jan says:

    Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series has a vampire mythology that is slightly different from the norm. Interesting comments to guide my future reading!

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