If you’re a regular reader here, you know I value strong world building in novels. I’m more likely to give a book a rare 5-star rating if the mythology for the world feels real. This is especially true when the world is so vivid that the most fantastical elements becomes downright plausible.
I need everything to make sense. I appreciate the logic authors put into the rules within their books. Even if they seem outrageous out of context, if one can make it believable within the world, I’m sold.
What’s even better is if you continue to learn about the rules over the course of a series. So often there’s this first-book learning curve, but what about the second or third books in series that solidify the world for us? Given the sheer number of vampire books I’ve read, I’ll give you a handful of vampire-specific examples.
1. Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton. The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter world was well solidified from the word go, but it was this third novel in the series that truly lifted the veil on the vampire world. The early Anita Blake books emphasize the police procedural element popular in urban fantasy. Anita is a vampire executioner (and a necromancer, natch) and we understood her role in the early books.
We met the charismatic vampire Jean-Claude in book one, but it’s within the pages of Circus of the Damned that we enter the resting places for vampires, that we see their place, we learn much more about their politics and we start to recognize how scary they can be.
2. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead. In Mead’s young adult Vampire Academy series, half-vampire dhampirs are prepared to fight against the soulless Strigoi vampires and protect the good Moroi vampires. The first two books we start to see this play out, we get to see one or two of the bad guys, the awkwardness of social structure when the guardians mingle with the protected and the like. However, it’s this third book in the series that brings it all home. We understand the dichotomy, the fear of the society. The moral ground—who is evil—becomes murkier here, but the structure of this vampire society is never clearer.
3. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris. If we ever needed proof that the world continues to evolve over the course of a series, the Sookie Stackhouse (nee Southern Vampire Mysteries) series is it. In the seventh book, All Together Dead, we visit a vampire summit. We thought we knew about the political jockeying of the conniving vampires in Harris’ world. That was before they convened at a hotel. Marriages were performed. Alliances made. Blood bonds forged. We learned about the power of blood within the vampire community, the depths of their politics and became hip-deep in their vicious drama. All Together Dead finally drew the figurative line in the sand showing us the differences between human and other.
4. One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. This is another case where we get to see vampires in their world. This second book in the Night Huntress series finds Cat meeting vampires on their turf, en masse. She learns more about what the vampire blood lines mean, the power of a vampire marriage and how their society functions. She knew how to kill vampires before, but it’s this new foray into their world that allows her to understand how they interact and how she can be a part of her world, should she so choose.
Which vampire worlds are your favorites? Are there ones you fell in love with the longer the series ran? Let’s make the comments here a suggested reading list.