Best Classical novels to read
Just because a novel is on a national bestseller list—or sells hundreds of thousands of copies—doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. The reverse is also true, especially of genre fiction, fringy fiction—a lot of the good stuff comes and goes virtually unnoticed.
Take vampire fiction, for example.
I’ve been reviewing science fiction, fantasy, and horror for almost 20 years now—and I’ve been reading the stuff obsessively since I was a kid—and during that time, I’ve discovered some jaw-droppingly good vampire novels. And the fascinating thing is that quite a few of my most memorable bloodsucking reads have been either self-published or released by a relatively small press—including more than half of the titles listed below.
With the anniversary of Bram Stoker’s death coming up in a few days (he died April 20, 1912), I thought it would be fitting to shine the light on some of the most under-appreciated vampire novels of all time.
This little self-published gem is essentially vampire-nuanced adventure fantasy. Darkly lyrical and deeply philosophical, it’s like R. A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden saga—with teeth. I loved how Bailey reimagined the vampire mythos in a classic adventure fantasy setting.
Although the New York Times Book Review called it “among the genre’s few modern classics” and Stephen King described it as “unputdownable, ” this landmark work seems to have flown under the radar for many vampire fiction fans. I hadn’t run across it until Tor reissued it back in 2008—and I’m so thankful they did!
This and its sequel, Bride of the Fat White Vampire, are simply hilarious reads. Featuring a 500-pound, bloodsucking taxi driver named Jules Duchon, this story—set in New Orleans—is as entertaining as it is audacious. The tagline for Fat White Vampire Blues says it all: “He’s undead, overweight, and can’t get a date.” You will never read anything quite like these novels…
How can a Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated novel written by a living legend be under-appreciated? Many people know GRRM only for his Song of Ice and Fire saga but, in my mind, this novel—largely set on the Mississippi River in 1857—is one of his best works ever.
The first novel in Pelegrimas’s Skinners saga, this novel was marketed as paranormal fantasy and while it certainly is that, it is also an epic reimagining of vampires and various other monstrosities. Vampire fiction fans may never have even heard of this series before but at its heart, Skinners is nothing short of revolutionary vampire-powered horror.