"...this year vampire fiction withered and died right before my eyes,
or at the very least fell into a 12-month torpor." – Paul Goat Allen
I’ll admit it – I did not see this coming.
At the end of 2011, I predicted that – on the strength of looming blockbuster releases like Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Kingmakers and Justin Cronin’s The Twelve – 2012 would be a “banner year” for vampire-powered fiction. But aside from a few remarkable novels, this year was an absolutely dreadful one for vampire fiction.
Put a stake in it already.
But that said: there were two excellent vampire fiction reads in 2012. Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Kingmakers, the concluding volume of their Vampire Empire trilogy, more than delivered the goods. If I had compiled a Best Vampire Fiction Releases of 2012, this would easily have been my #1 pick.
“[Vampire Empire] is simultaneously alternate history, epic adventure fantasy, apocalyptic horror, and heartrending romance. With a storyline powered by steampunk sensibilities and an audacious tone reminiscent of the Golden Age adventure pulps (like Doc Savage and The Spider), this novel was simply a brilliant amalgam of genre elements.”
In my review of The Kingmakers, I wrote: “The Vampire Empire trilogy will forever alter the way in which you see genre fiction. I dare you to read this trilogy and not wholeheartedly agree.”
The last two years have been a dynamic and exciting time for vampire fiction – what the heck happened in 2012?
I visited two bookstores over the weekend – one a B&N and the other a small used bookstore – and asked a few dozen people this exact question.
Also, a few booksellers speculated that vampire fiction has been increasingly dovetailing with paranormal/urban fantasy. Novels by authors like J. R. Ward, Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, LKH, etc., while featuring vampiric characters, aren’t being seen as vampire fiction à la Stoker’s Dracula or Rice’s Interview with the Vampire but as paranormal fantasy.
Both responses, I believe, are accurate to an extent. Vampires have been a bit overexposed of late and there certainly have been some amazing vampire-powered paranormal fantasy this year – and in the last decade, for that matter.
Bottom line: this was a bad year for vampire fiction – but is it really dead?
It will rise again – and soon.
In fact, 2013 is starting off with a blockbuster of a vampire fiction release: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, which is being toted as the most innovative treatment of vampires since Interview with the Vampire!
Why do you think 2012 was such an off year for vampire fiction?
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.
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