Vampires and Vampirism by Dudley Wright
I have to admit, this book surprised me.
When I first began reading this book, I thought to myself, "Okay, an anthropological work on vampires from the early 20th century. Have you ever read a scholarly work on anything in the early 20th century? I firmly believe those gentlemen were specifically trained to by dry, boring and humorless, as though scholarship were the same. All the clues were there: more than one preface, extremely wide margins, and the original typeface. I sat down for what I thought would be an evening of going back to college.
Now I have to admit, I'm one of these people who actually enjoys a good (repeat good) vampire story as well as the surrounding legends and lore, which is why I agreed to give this one a try. And despite the dustiness I expected, I was prepared to try harder with it than usual.
I started reading and soon found I couldn't put the damn thing down. I caught myself staying up late reading of vampire traditions from all over the world, eyewitness accounts of vampires feeding, vampires spotted, vampires raised and vampires killed.
I was surprised to learn that not all vampires take the same shape nor feed off human blood, nor are they limited to one or two areas of the world, though they look and act differently. Vampires from Thailand are large disembodied human heads, usually female, and drag entrails from the severed neck. Gross? Sure, but cool!
And fascinating. Wright has investigated every corner of the globe and collected as much information as he can, both in the form of legend and account.
The downside of the book is that, because it is a scholarly work, every single fact he collected is in there, no matter what it is. He appends the odd fact here and there to paragraphs that have nothing to do with those facts. He looked for the best place to stick it in, even if it wasn't appropriate to the passage. So here and there, it interrupts itself.
However, this is a small, small disadvantage, because not only are these "extra details" in the minority, the vast amount of fascinating information would be worth several disadvantages like this one.
Anyone who writes vampire stuff, reads vampire stories, or just plain likes vampire mythology, should read this; a must-possess for any goth.
Four and a half bites.
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Imbolc 2002, Updated July 30, 2002
BLOOD ROSE is Copyright © M. W. Worthen.