“Vampires let us play with death and the issue of mortality. They let us ponder what it would mean to be truly long lived. Would the long view allow us to see the world differently, imagine social structures differently? Would it increase or decrease our reverence for the planet? Vampires allow us to ask questions we usually bury.” –Margot Adler
Author and NPR correspondent Margot Adler has a new book out, Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side, in which she explores our long-enduring fascination with the vampire myth. Adler became drawn to vampires as she sat vigil at her dying husband’s bedside, and her book is an exploration of what scholar J. Gordon Melton describes as “the ever-morphing vampire, powerful and at the same time significantly flawed, [which] invites us to reflect on our own life as we seek control, community, and some sense of self-worth.”
Over four years, Adler read over 270 vampire novels, which she then divides into themed chapters with brief reviews of a representational selection of the novels she read. I was thrilled to learn that my 2011 Gothic vampire thriller Verland: The Transformation was among them. In a section titled “Novels in the Classic Tradition,” Adler gives a short review of my book along with vampire novels by Fred Saberhagen, Tim Powers, Elizabeth Kostova, Carlos Fuentes, and Lucius Shepard.
In her review, Adler calls Verland “compelling” and “deeper than it first appear,” and hits upon what was my most fundamental goal in writing the book: “What starts out as a simple true crime investigation ends up asking large questions about the value of human life.”
Indeed, I think the vampire myth continue to endure in part because of what these Other Selves tell us about ourselves. It’s fascinating to go through the categories in Adler’s book and see how, from humorous novels to young adult, from supernatural fantasy to adult/erotic, something powerfully essential about the vampire myth remains even as it undergoes countless, continuous transformations. As with any review, Adler’s choices are subjective, particularly as her journey through vampire literature was inspired by, and is thherefore meant to be, a highly personal response to her husband’s death. In addition, Adler’s interest in and involvement with Wicca and Paganism is evident in a predilection toward certain themes and plots, such as those in which witches join the supernatural list of characters. Her choices and opinions will, of course, inspire debate (Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat on “The Best” list instead of Interview with the Vampire? Be still my not-beating undead heart!). But debate and discussion is a part of what makes the vampire legacy so rich and vital. With Vampires Are Us, Adler has contributed both a moving personal exploration to that legacy, and a truly impressive bibliography of vampire literature that will be an invaluable resource for vamp lovers of all preferences.
I’m very proud that Verland is included.