Sunday 28 February 2021

Book Review: A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture by Violet Fenn (Non-Fiction)

Title: A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture
Author: Violet Fenn
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 31 March 2021
eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Our enduring love of vampires - the bad boys (and girls) of paranormal fantasy - has persisted for centuries. Despite being bloodthirsty, heartless killers, vampire stories commonly carry erotic overtones that are missing from other paranormal or horror stories.

Even when monstrous teeth are sinking into pale, helpless throats - especially then - vampires are sexy. But why? In
A History Of The Vampire In Popular Culture, author Violet Fenn takes the reader through the history of vampires in 'fact' and fiction, their origins in mythology and literature and their enduring appeal on tv and film. We'll delve into the sexuality - and sexism - of vampire lore, as well as how modern audiences still hunger for a pair of sharp fangs in the middle of the night.


I love vampires and am always tempted by any book featuring them, whether fiction or non-fiction, so naturally I was quick to request a copy of A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture when I saw it on NetGalley. First, the pros. This book was only written recently, so it includes many up-to-date references, such as the recent BBC production of Dracula, which are not included in similar but older works. Also, Fenn's enthusiasm for the topic definitely shows through in her writing, which is lovely. Finally, I appreciated her comments early in the book regarding that fact that a lot comes down to personal opinion, and some of her favourite representations might not be the same as her readers' choices. Unfortunately, overall this book did not thrill me. Despite the new references, there was really nothing here that hasn't already been discussed in other works of the same ilk, so I struggled to see what value it brought/what the need for it was. I also spotted several factual errors when Fenn was discussing plot points in a couple of the books she referenced, and those irked me. Those errors aside, there is nothing 'wrong' with this work, and those coming to it with no prior experience of such texts will doubtless find something to enjoy in it. But if, like me, you've read several similar books in the past, there is not a great deal in this one to set it above the others as it covers all the usual points with nothing majorly new to say. For me it's a 2.5-star read, but I will round up to a 3 rather than down to a 2 because, as I said, it's not a bad work in and of itself if you are new to the topic.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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