The usual suspects put out solid work – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro published her 22nd Saint-Germain novel, J.R. Ward continued her erotic Black Dagger Brotherhood saga, and Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan released the concluding volume of their Strain trilogy – but 2011 was all about the debuts. Rowe’s Enter, Night was a “vampire novel for the ages” set in a small town in northern Ontario in 1972 and powered by a darkly lyrical – and decidedly creepy – narrative. I just loved Rowe’s writing style. Here’s an example from his debut:
And A Discovery of Witches, the debut novel from Deborah Harkness, was heralded as “a fairy tale for grown-ups” and brought millions of vampire fiction newbies over to the dark side.
Interestingly enough, I found some of the most innovative vampire fiction this year in self-published releases. Mel Nicolai’s The Shake was an addictively readable fusion of mystery and horror with a deeply philosophical undertone. K.R. Morrison’s debut novel Be Not Afraid was a deeply flawed but fascinatingly allegorical look at bloodsuckers, a blend of dark fantasy and faith-based supernatural suspense that I described as “Christian horror;” and Arshad Ahsanuddin’s Pact Arcanum saga (Sunset, Sunrise, et. al.) was also a far from perfect read but the ambitious, grand-scale, science fiction backdrop and labyrinthinely plotted storyline was impressive, to say the least.
Prediction: while 2011 was an off year collectively for vampire fiction aficionados, 2012 should be a year for “Big” releases. The sequel to Justin Cronin’s The Passage, tentatively titled The Twelve, is rumored to be released sometime in 2012 as is the concluding volume of Clay and Susan Griffith’s Vampire Empire trilogy. If this is correct, those two books alone should make 2012 a banner year for bloodsuckers.
So, without further ado, here are my best vampire fiction releases of 2011…
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.
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