Published in 2009 Bite is a sort of chronicle of vampires for beginners. Jackson starts off by listing the various vampire myths throughout the world and points out that almost every civilization has their own version of vampires as well as unique names for the un-dead.
Considering the fact that the book itself consists of only five chapters there is not a hugely in-depth analysis of the vampire mythos it does , however, pay considerable “lip-service” to most of the more popular vampires of fiction.
The book goes on to discus vampires in literature, trotting out the old story of Byron and the Shelley’s and Polidori’s “monster” party where they challenged themselves to write a scary tale. Mary Shelley famously came up with the roots of Frankenstein which she later tweaked for publication. Polidori wrote about a vampire and was accused of plagiarizing Byron’s story.
There is also a mention of the penny dreadful series about Varney the Vampire and finally he winds up touching on Bram Stokers Dracula and gives a little background on Stoker’s alleged homosexuality and the actor Sir Henry Irving.
The vampire on stage and celluloid are broached next with a minimum of attention paid to Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and Max Schreck in their early depictions of the blood drinking Count Dracula.
There are quite a few books and authors that Jackson recommends and discusses. Anne Rice, Stephen King, Kim Newman, et al. The same holds true with films and television shows dealing with blood suckers although somewhat amazingly Jackson confesses that he did not like The Lost Boys, one of the best films dealing with the vampire genre in the 80’s.
Besides the fact that I seriously questioned the authors taste in film, I doubted that he had even seen the movie. How anyone could chronicle vampires in fiction and not like The Lost Boys worries me. More importantly to not recognise the important impact that the film had on future vampire films is almost criminal.
Still, he does cover a lot of material in his five chapter introduction to the lore and gore of the vampire world. But, as I suggested in the title of this post, it is just an introduction for all that. He does not spend enough time on any of the areas he writes about.
For the novice vampire fan, it will serve the purpose of at least giving the burgeoning reader or film-goer a choice of what to read or watch. Although the first chapter can drag a bit as he lists all the names of the different versions of vampires in different cultures. It’s somewhat akin to reading the Book of Genesis in the Bible and yawningly going through all those begets.
So I can safely give this little handbook 3 out of 5 stars. There are other books out there that delve a lot deeper into the subject than this one, but it’s not bad for all that.
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