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Bite: A Vampire Handbook Cover Picture

Bite: A Vampire Handbook

Kevin Jackson

Published 2009       199 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Arm yourself with garlic, stake and crucifix, for the vampires are back in force — at the top of the bestseller lists, on your TV, on the web, and lurking in darkened cinemas. But, where did they come from? Why have they come back now? And how can you tell if you are one?

Beginning with the first sightings of bats and blood-sucking in the Romantic period, Bite follows the undead’s progress through the ages, right up to the twilit present. Alongside gory anecdotes, facts, and figures, each section is punctuated with lists, such as the best places around the world for vampire tourism;  the box-office top ten films with fangs; famous vampire manifestations in books, comics, ballets and breakfast cereals; as well as the most reliable and unreliable methods for vampire detection and disposal…

The Review

And now for something different… Usually LoveVampires reviews romance, horror or fantasy fiction that features vampires but recently we came across Bite: A Vampire Handbook, a factual guide to the world of the fictional vampire. Naturally, as people who read a huge amount of vampire fiction (not to mention watching all the vampire films and TV shows) this book was of great interest to the inhabitants of LoveVampires Towers.

In “Bite: A Vampire Handbook” Kevin Jackson has written a collection of essays, with lists and facts and figures, that charts the rise (and rise) of the vampire in fiction and film. Starting from the vampires’ humble folklore beginnings, Kevin follows their progress as they transition from legend to Romantic literature. Along the way he examines the impact of the novel Dracula and the plethora of films that the book spawned. From there it is a small step to an array of other vampire films, TV shows, plays and comics that then lead the way back to the current Twilight fuelled craze for romantic vampire novels.

Bringing in anecdotal tales of the stories behind the great works of fiction adds an extra layer interest to the subject. With tales of piracy and plagiarism behind the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori and the copyright war of the Stoker estate against Murnau’s film Nosferatu for its plagiarism of Dracula the book expands on the usual vampire literature subject matter.

Other sections worthy of note include “New Nails for Old Coffins: Hammer Films and Christopher Lee” a detailed look at the classic Hammer Horror Dracula films and “The Ladies and The Vamps” which examines films and books from the 1980s to the present day and shows that vampires have managed to reach beyond their undead limitations and are now romantic lead material.

My description of the subject matter of Bite may make the book sound like a dry, academic tome but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kevin Jackson imparts his great knowledge of historical vampire literature and contemporary vampire pop culture with humour and flair. Even the least academically minded vampire fan will find something of interest in Bite, even if it’s just suggestions for forgotten classic vampire films to look for at the local DVD Library.

Intelligently written and packed full of vampire goodness Bite is essential reading for vampire fans.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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