60 Books In 2019 #15: The Vampire Armand By Anne Rice

Armand has always been my favorite of Anne Rice’s vampires, even back when I had only read Interview, and seen the movies, I loved him. I loved that he knew he was the bad guy in this story, and frankly being played by Antonio Banderas doesn’t hurt.

But here’s my favorite thing about The Vampire Chronicles in general as they continue to unfurl, and it’s the way that Rice plays with unreliable narrators. We met these characters first through Louis, who’s perspective is skewed by his love of aestethics, his relatively short life in comparison to the other vampires, and his all consuming grief at the loss of Claudia. Of course he’d see Armand, who never denied the evil of what they have to do to survive as evil incarnate.

Then we meet them through Lestat. Who, while I adore him, is a complete and total blowhard. Armand’s quiet intensity and belief in anything, let alone a God who’d wish to punish the creatures of the night would be antithetical to Lestat’s view of the world as a playground for his grand adventures.

Now we have Armand’s story. The story of how the talented boy Andrei became the slave Amadeo who then became the vampire Armand. We learn about his kidnapping, his apprenticeship with Marius (Ah, Marius) as well as their love and then finally, his second kidnapping by Santino which lead to his leading the Paris coven of vampires, which then evolved into The Theatre De Vampire, and his turning of Daniel, at the begining of Queen Of The Damned. Which, you know, I kind of forgot about?

Armand views this as his most monstrous action, because he thinks turning humans is disgusting. (The killing is a necessary evil, but to rob them of normal lives is obscene. Seriously, I love Armand!) 

The book is framed by Armand giving his tale to David Talbot after the events of Memnoch The Devil, which is when it gets Jesus-y (of course it gets Jesus-y), Armand admits he was always religious, which was what made him easy prey. He’s also formed a small human family around himself, which as he heals from his leap into the sun, (will Armand now be the greatest vampire to ever vampire because he survived the same thing as Lestat? I sure hope so.) And in what I really, really enjoyed as a horrible finale, he surrenders the protection of his pet humans to Marius and Pandora, thinking they’ll care for them as he gets better, and when he goes back to find them all, find that Marius has turned them.

I was so happy to see the vampires behaving like monsters again. To see their nature made cruel and odd all over again. We’ve been living too long with Louis and Lestat and their moral codes of only killing killers, and never changing anyone again, and all that.

Armand knows he’s the bad guy. Marius knows he’s the bad guy. They’re much more interesting at this point.

Next up is Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom, because you know what? Let’s get some dumb Hollywood trash juice around her. It’s been a while.

45 Books In 2018 #42: The Historian By Elizabeth Kostova

There’s a handful of good ideas in in Kostova’s novel, that never really gel together. A brainy teenager (with that old Gothic standby of not having a name) tracing a secret long kept by her loving parent, while the other is absent, a secret society of scholars hunting for the truth about Vlad The Impaler discover that the vampiric legends surrounding him are true, and Vlad Dracul’s descendants grapple with the legacy of evil left behind.

None of it quite gets there, as The Historian can’t commit to one of these narratives and tries to get all three in there. While the stylistic choice to mirror Brahm Stoker’s Dracula is a fun one, the diary within a diary within a diary conceit of this book makes it often hard to track.

A globe trotting thriller that’s never quite thriling and a horror novel that’s only scary for a few pages, a semi-sequel to Dracula where he only appears for like ten pages (and they are the best 10 pages of the book) everything about The Historian feels half baked. It’s also from that precious time fifteen years ago where every book seemed like it was trying to ape The DaVinci Code‘s formula of academics uncovering ancient and shocking secrets as they stumble through catacombs in Europe.

I enjoyed it enough that I was able to push through the more banal parts to the actually exciting conclusion, but not enough to really recommend it as a read to most people. It’s a fun read for anyone who’s really into vampire fiction. (Like Me!) It’s ties to Stoker’s original are worthwhile and the way it draws on the actual story of Vlad The Impaler somewhat creative, but it would have been altogether a better book if Kostova had picked one track and stuck with it, rather than trying to cover everything here.

Up next I’m sticking with vampires but we’re checking back in with Lestat in The Tale Of The Body Theif. I’ve missed that arrogant little SOB, I really, really have.

45 Books In 2018 #38: The Queen Of The Damned By Anne Rice

Boy, this is a weird series. I mean that in the best way. Even as someone who loves digressional world building there are large swaths of The Queen Of The Damned that were tough to get through. In the end it all comes together, though, and oddly, knowing the trajectory of Rice’s life and beliefs this is a fascinating read.

If Interview With A Vampire was a look into the horror of ennui, and The Vampire Lestat was about the deconstruction and reconstruction of myth, then Queen Of The Damned is about the triumph of humanism over dogma and superstition.

Part of what appeals to me about vampire fiction, and Rice’s work in particular is that I’m Catholic and I’m queer. You don’t get a better a intersection for what the woman’s trying to say than that. I identify with humanism in a lot of ways too. (My boy Tommy Quine Quine, to quote The Good Place.) (Are you watching The Good Place? If you aren’t, stop everything you’re doing and watch it!) So, you know, I’ve thought a lot about the ideas she’s talking about in this book, about the fall of superstition and the rise of human intellect that really spoke to me.

But there’s also a deep air of creepiness and horror here, not just weird musings about witches and spirits and their irrelevance in the face of technology and the human animal. Like, Akasha, The Queen Of The Damned herself is terrifying on both the visceral “crazy vampire” level and the existential, “this kind of unfeeling monster is the end of the line for an immortal” level. However, her overall plan to kill 90% of the men in the world and restart civilization with women in power sounds kind of deeply appealing.

Overall, I’m in though, and as I found with both Dune and Dark Tower in the past few years, book 3 tends to be point of no return for me. So, I guess I’m in. I’ve come this far. (And I’ve taken out like 6 other Anne Rice books from the library…so there’s that, too.)

Up next though, we’re taking a break to indulge in another old school obsession, I’m going to be reading I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon. I’ve missed the Romanovs. The Amazon show has gotten them back in my head again, so I’m sure there’s going to be some further spiraling back down that hole.

45 Books In 2018 #34: Interview With The Vampire By Anne Rice

OK, confession time, this is a repeat! But I read it in high school so that barely counts.

Plus I’m diving into  The Vampire Chronicles as a whole, which means that I just had to start at the beginning. Also, it was a good way to get into the spooky mood for October, a reasonably easy read. So, I dove in, back into the magical, sexy, world of Anne Rice and Louis and Lestat and Claudia. (And Armand, people forget Armand. They shouldn’t, because he’s my favorite, but they do.) (And it’s only a little bit because Antonio Banderas plays him in the movie.) (Also, yes, I know that in the early days of the internet, Anne Rice was kind of an asshole to people, that’s why I’m going out my way to take the books out of the library rather than buy them and support her! SEE! Je suis woke, or whatever.)

I know the movie Interview With A Vampire by heart, because it’s awesome. (It’s my third favorite Tom Cruise performance, after A Few Good Men and Top Gun.) I didn’t remember the book once, but I was shocked by how faithful to the book the movie is, details are fudged, timelines are streamlined, but it follows the A-B-C of the thing very well. Louis is a feckless aristocrat, Lestat falls in love with him (this is much more explicit in the book, the gay stuff, SOOOO GAY!) turns him into a vampire, he becomes a feckless vampire. They change Claudia into a vampire and raise her as their daughter. (GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY!) Then Claudia goes crazy and she murders Lestat (OR SO SHE THINKS) they go to Europe, they meet Armand and the Paris vampires. (ARMAND!) Armand falls in love with Louis. (GAAAYYYYYYYYY) Lestat comes back, and the Paris vampires kill Claudia, and Louis and Armand run away and live together for a while, and then they find Lestat and again and then they break up.

There’s a lot of detail and cool world building and spooky scenes but the story is pretty basic. But I loved reading it again, and I’m waiting on The Vampire Lestat and The Queen Of The Damned to come in for me to pick up from the library.

I’m sticking spooky for the month of October, and with books written by women, since I haven’t read enough of those this year. So, I’m picking up Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell, which Aless gave me for Christmas years ago and I haven’t gotten to.

More gay vampires on the way, but for now, I’m happy to dive into some magic.

36 Books In 2018 #28: The Harvesting By Melanie Karsak

It’s a gamble, picking up a book in a genre that you haven’t invested in in a while. It’s a bigger gamble when you do it because you were flirting with a guy running a small press table at a comic con while dressed as a Hogwarts student.

But gamble or not, that’s how I found The Harvesting, and it, as well as it’s sequels, and they’ve stared back at me, hissing, “You may have flushed $35 down the toilet and wasted half a book shelf…” before I realized I wasn’t ready for God Emperor Of Dune yet and I was pretty well through the rest of my TBR.

So, yesterday afternoon I picked up the first book. I haven’t read supernatural adventure stuff in a while. After the zombie boom which followed my brief love affair with all things vampiiric, the thought of diving into a series that promised both, as well as a kick ass female lead who uses some kind of sword…well…uh, it was overwhelming.

Anyway, all this baggage I took into The Harvesting, and I was immediately charmed by our heroine, Layla, and delighted in her zombie fighting adventurers, the plague  hitting as she visits her grandmother in the sleepy upstate New York town where she grew up.

Oh, also her grandma was a medium, and she is too, and there are fairies? There’s a lot going on, but I’m totally hooked. I mean, seriously,  she fights zombies and talks to fairies and this is all for about a hundred and fifty pages before the vampires show up. Plus there’s this whole drama with Layla’s high school boyfriend Ian (now married to a girl he got pregnant while cheating on her.) and his brother Jamie (totally dreamy, single and way more stable than Ian!) which is so right up my alley.

It was also refreshing to read a book of this genre where all of the characters are adults. Most supernatural fiction I’ve read has been of the YA variety and usually with a good deal more smooching. I still love a good eternal teen with a focus on brooding and relationship issues, I mean, I think, it’s been a while. But this was really fun to read.

Anyway, back to The Harvesting, it’s a fun easy read, with a hook I couldn’t resist. (Hereditary psychic fights zombies and vampires? I mean, hello?) And I was happy to support small press! And lady writers!

Up next, it’s time to start in on Ulysses…gulp.

 

City of Heavenly Fire: Good Endings

The thing about The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series is that I know that they’re super, super, super, um, how do I say this without making it sound like I’m disparaging the series that I love? Well, they’re kind of lame. But they’re lame in all of the ways that I absolutely love.

There are demons, and teenagers who are in love with the wrong people, and vampires, and werewolves and fairies, and in this, the finale, a mirror hell dimension. (Also, not actually the finale. Hooray!)

I should note that if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, you will likely be lost in this review, because I’m not recapping. OK, I’ll recap a little, Shadowhunters, also known as Nephilium, are angel descended humans who fight demons. Downworlders are demon human hybrids, ie, Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies and Warlocks. Clary Fray (Fairchild, Morgenstern, everyone has like 10 names, it’s just how it goes.) lived the first 16 years of her life thinking that she was a normal girl. Turns out, she’s not. She’s a Shadowhunter. She learns this when she meets Jace Wayland (Morgenstern, Lightwood, Herondale) and they fall in love. Then they find out that they’re brother and sister. But actually they’re not! Then he gets brainwashed by her actual brother Jonathan who goes by Sebastian and wants to destroy the world (and hook up with Clary, this series is lousy with weird incest stuff.) Also, Jason was raised alongside the Lightwoods, Alec and Isabelle. Clary’s best friend Simon got turned into a vampire, and then drank Jace’s blood so now he’s a daylighter. Also, he’s dating Isabelle, kind of. But she’s pissed at him because he was cheating on her with Maia, a werewolf. Oh, also Clary’s mom, Jocelyn is engaged to Luke, a former shadowhunter, who is now a werewolf. Alec is in an on again off again relationship with Magnus Bane, a powerful Warlock who is the main link between the two series.

That’s basically all you need to know.

Last year when I read Clockwork Princess, I was blown away by how well everything was wrapped up in the end. While I appreciate ambiguous endings for their, whatever, ballsyness? I like clean endings. I like to know that everyone is going to be OK. (Think Harry Potter. I defend the epilogue, the same for The Hunger Games.) Cassandra Clare is a master of clean endings. The end of City of Heavenly Fire, brings together the heroes from the two series together. (Jem Carstairs aka Brother Zachariah was a huge part of this book, and I found myself crying every time he spoke. The fact that the epilogue brought Tessa Gray in and that she bestowed a Herondale family heirloom on her descendant Jace, without him knowing her relationship to him, was lovely.

The main plot of the book was exciting, interesting and of course, mired in the mythology of this world, so any attempt to explain it would be, futile, but basically, Sebastian has been making “dark Shadowhunters” and sleeping with the Fairy Queen, which is kind of weird. In order to protect themselves, the Shadowhunters have retreated to Alicante, their homeland and capital city. They have lots of meetings, Jace gets angry. Isabelle is sad because she misses Simon. Simon comes, they all go to the hell dimension to fight Sebastian, after he kidnaps, Luke, Jocelyn and Magnus. In the end, they get home, but to do it, Simon has to sacrifice his immortality and his knowledge of the shadow world.

I don’t think I’ve cried as hard as I did at the “death” of Simon Lewis. As I’ve established when talking about the series in the past, Simon is my favorite character. Luckily, in the end, they find a way to get Simon his memories back and turn him into a Shadhunter! Hooray!

Romance is at the heart of The Mortal Instruments, and I was absolutely giddy about how it was handled in this book. Clary and Jace’s first time having sex was in a stream, in a cave, in a hell dimension. I’m sorry, that’s the single greatest sentence I’ve ever written. Magnus and Alec’s angst at their separation is fantastic, and Isabelle and Simon’s tragic, and then not, romance is just lovely. And then whole thing ends with a wedding! Jocelyn and Luke’s, not any of our mains. In the end it’s love and purity and kindness that win the day. (Also burning Heavenly Fire, but I mean, obviously), and it looks like for next series (Beginning Fall 2015! EEEH!) a war with the fairies is ahead.

I’m not going to keep going, because I could, for pages and days about how much I liked this, but it would be repetitive and boring. So, I’m signing off! See you tomorrow!

DC Animated Movies: Batman VS Dracula

Batman_vs._Dracula

Happy New Year! I’ve been doing a lot of Batman thinking lately, due mostly to the abundance of trade graphic novels I picked up from the library last week. (The more I read of Damian Wayne’s story, the more he’s my favorite Robin. And the more I dread getting to the end. I love this kid and I hope he gets resurrected soon!) And of course because I was due for another animated movie. But before I dove into Batman VS Dracula, I decided to watch an episode or 2 of The Batman, the series it was tied into.

An episode or two turned into a season and a half and thus the watch got pushed off. Anyway, I watched, I enjoyed and here we go.

It was definitely good to watch the show first, not because this version of Gotham needed much exposition, it’s pretty shallow, but because the change in animation style for B:TAS to The Batman is jarring. It’s much more cartoony, and decidedly lighter. It’s a whole lot more fun, and there’s a good deal of focus on the gadgetry (which gets criticism, but the Nolan movies also focus a whole lot on the gadgets.) Also, That Batman makes a few other decisions to change, namely the most important choice that any Batman writer must make, who’s the real guy? Batman or Bruce? Timm and Dini truly believed that Batman was the real guy, but The Batman seems to believe that Bruce is the real guy.

This is an important detail because Batman VS Dracula is the animation debut of Miss Vicki Vale. I’m not a huge fan of Vicki’s, I liked Kim Bassinger in the original Burton Batman, but her comic appearances make her seem vapid and kind of a lightweight when it comes to her romantic competition. But she serves the narrative well here, doing what Vicki does best, taking being stood up by Bruce in stride and being nosy.

The plot is thicker than I expected, even with the Bruce/Vicki action taking a backseat. Basically, The Penguin breaks out of Arkham and chases after a rumored buried treasure in a cematery. Instead of treasure he finds Dracula who because of comics has been moved to Gotham from Transylvania. Penguin accidentally cuts his hand and awakens the Dark Master. He then takes on the toady role, and is almost as much fun in it as Xander Harris. Meanwhile, Batman fights Joker across town, and Joker falls almost to his death. Batman assumes he’s dead and it hits him hard. But not so hard that he can’t go on a date disguised as an interview with Vicki.

As Dracula gains a foothold several Gothamites begin disappearing, and of course witnesses report a bat like figure at the scenes, thus Batman is getting the blame. Bruce begins trying to unravel the mystery of “The Lost Ones” while falling just a little bit for Vicki. When the Penguin tells Dracula that the way into Gotham society is through Bruce Wayne, the vamp shows up to a Wayne Foundation fundraiser using the pseudonym Dr. Alucard (Dracula backwards, but well, come on, I immediately thought of “Dr. Acula,” a joke that will never ever get old.) Eventually, Joker shows up again, gets turned into a vampire. (Vampire joker is awesome) and Bruce winds up under Dracula’s thrall. Then he beats him.

I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. The Batman embraces camp in a way that B:TAS doesn’t, so rather than feeling just a little forced, the way the Mystery of The Batwoman did, it feels a little bit silly but exactly right. Rino Ramano’s Bruce/Batman is very different from any of the others I’ve heard. It (like this style) is a lot lighter, and a good deal younger. Like I said, this version seems to focus on Bruce over Batman which is cool. Alastair Duncan’s Alfred is probably my favorite part of this series. He’s comedicly awesome. And his organizing of the staff during the Wayne Foundation Gala is a masterful bit of characterization. I greatly enjoyed Kevin Michael Richardson’s Joker. It’s not my favorite or even number two (that goes to John Dimaggio in Under The Red Hood) but it’s very good and I love the Joker character design her. Tara Strong is Vicki Vale, and she really is immensely talented. Overall the cast is good and the voice acting excellent. The animation is highly stylized but never clumsy. Overall, it’s a good watch, far more enjoyable than Mystery or and more even (but I don’t love it as much as) SubZero. It isn’t a masterpiece like Phantasm and the action doesn’t match Return of The Joker, but I’ll probably watch it again some time and I absolutely plan on finishing The Batman as a series. (And not only because I know that Dick and Babs are coming, and I haven’t encountered them yet!)

Up next is Superman: Braniac Attacks. I’m really psyched to get past Batman. I don’t know what’s happening to me!

Hope everyone has a happy new year. I’m looking forward to a year full of Man Of Steel: Justice League and Avengers: Age of Ultron news, the return of Agents of Shield, Captain America: Winter Soldier, the final season of Mad Men and a new Doctor. It’s going to be quite a fangirly year!

Stuck in The Middle With You

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Rewatch Week 1 Post 2

I forgot how hard to get through the middle of the seasons can be. Sunday night, I wasn’t really sleepy, football was over and I decided to curl up in bed and watch some more Buffy. (I’ve also started doing outside research. I’m having some fun now gang!) I got through one episode (“Never Kill a Boy on The First Date”) laughed, jotted down some notes. (Cordelia says Angel will need some oxygen when she’s through with him. Funny, because no one know’s he’s dead yet. Also sad, because he outlives her.) Then I moved on to “The Pack,” and within ten minutes I was falling asleep.

I was not engaged, was the point. Then Monday morning, I read an essay by Stacey Abbot from The Cult TV Book: Star Trek to Dexter, New Approached to TV  Outside The Box specifically about these kinds of episodes. (Though Abbot does not reference “The Pack” because no one likes this episode, where Xander gets possessed by a hyena and is cruel to Willow and tries to rape Buffy.) She discusses how one off episodes, made the show special.

I agree with Abbot to an extent when it’s good one offers, like “The Zeppo” or “Superstar,” or “Hush.” But when it’s boring stupid ones like, “The Pack,” well, then it’s just boring. Luckily after the boring horror that is “The Pack,” we get “Angel.”

I was so excited to watch this episode again. Beyond excited. I love this episode so much I can even forgive it for probably creating Edward Cullen. Seriously, it so closely mirrors the plot of Twilight I’m surprised that Joss Whedon didn’t sue the temple garment right off Stephenie Meyer’s cute little tushy.

Well, situationally, the plots are similar. The quasi-stalking, the creepy sleepover, the trying to stay away from each other, the swooping in to a dark alley to save her.

Of course, when the sunlight hits Angel he doesn’t shimmer. He recoils and almost burst in to flames, like a good vampire should. Then we learn about his curse and a hero is born.

We are still several years away from this.

And we see Buffy use the crossbow for the first time.

I love this episode.

Confessions of a Recovered Twi-hard

It all started in the summer of 2008, in my parent’s living room. I was sitting with my friend Courtney, talking about books, TV shows and what we were going to do now that there was no more new Harry Potters coming out. And Courtney said this.

“Oh my God! You like Buffy, right?”

“Um, yeah,” I said. This was a fairly obvious question, since the only people who don’t like Buffy The Vampire Slayer are robots (probably).

“You should read Twilight,” she said simply, “It’s like Buffy meets Jane Austen.” (I may be paraphrasing, there had been drinking happening and it was four years ago.)

This feels like such a long time ago

Guys, my friend Courtney is a liar.

Regardless, I went out and bought Twilight. It wasn’t actually anything like Buffy, but I still thought it was pretty good. I also thought it was kind of cool that there was this whole cult following for this series that I didn’t know anything about. There were teams and tee shirts. It was like Harry Potter but without the fear of being stampeded.

Please remember that this was 2008, before the 4th book, just after they announced that a movie was happening, and also, I was busy being a college student and intern, so I didn’t quite conceive of the scope of this whole thing. So in spite of Courtney’s lies, my complete ignorance of the level of this thing I was throwing myself in to, and the knowledge that it was all kind of stupid, I jumped on the Twilight bandwagon.

Here’s something that people who haven’t read Twilight and who aren’t obsessive fangirls don’t understand. Twi-harding, as I later learned it was called, is completely addictive, it’s like crack. And in the summer and fall of 2008, it was like the whole world was my crack dealer.

SO MUCH MERCHANDISE TO BUY!

Within six months of Courtney mentioning I should pick up the book, I had read all four Twilight books twice, followed the casting, filming and release hype for the first movie, declared myself as staunchly Team Jacob (with Emmet leanings), and started a countdown to Taylor Lautner’s 18th birthday.

I’m not proud of any of this. Just for the record.

I Twi-harded for nearly two years. In that time I think I read the series six times. I had desktop backgrounds and long boring conversations with people about whether we thought Rennesme was a stupid name (I was at least always sane enough to say that it was.) I bought “The Short Second Life of Bree” and the graphic novel. I read The Host, I downloaded the playlists from Stephenie Meyer’s website. I betrayed my sister by finally listening to Muse, because she’d been telling me to for years, and I did it because of Twilight. 

What finally snapped me out of it was the film version of Eclipse (part 3). I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was seeing how boring the stories were when you took away the inner monologue (I still maintain that Twilight contains some damn well drawn characters and when you actually see her point of view Bella is way less annoying), maybe it was because I was finally fed up with Kristen Stewart, but I walked out of that theater and went Cold Turkey.

Seriously, since then, I haven’t reread the books. I haven’t watched any of the movies or parts of the movies, not even the parts where Taylor runs shirtless in the rain.

That might be the hardest part. I miss Taylor

I haven’t gone on Stephenie Meyers’s website.

This week though, it’s tough not to relapse. Now that we’ve learned Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson with a married guy…I’ve been thinking about Twilight, and well, it’s hard not to want to pluck out my books, reread and start wishing that ANY OTHER ACTRESS IN THE WORLD had been cast as Bella.

Not because that’s super slutty (it is) but because it’s just a reminder of how she’s a really bad actress.

Goody Two Fangs

I had a job interview today!

But this post isn’t about this, except that it allowed me to finish Insatiable, which is Meg Cabot’s take on the whole “vampire craze.” I figure with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter coming out on Friday, this is as good a time as any for me to wade in to that water that is so fraught for fangirls (as it encompasses the best and worst of all of qualities) the “good vampire.”

I was devouring Insatiable, and it’s heroine Meena Harper’s (it’s funny because her name sounds like the girl from Dracula) relationship with Lucien Antenescu and I ran in to the problem that I always run in to with these stories. I didn’t want Meena to get together with Lucien, I wanted her to get together with Alaric Wulf, the sexy vampire hunter she starts hanging out with. I’m almost always rooting for the other guy…it’s kind of a pathology with me that I think goes back to singing “On My Own,” in my shower and thinking that Cosette was a tool and Marius should have ended up with Eponine. But it also got me thinking about a bunch of the other pop culture vamps that I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time with.

It would be wayward and stupid and unfair of me to start anywhere but with Angel. Angelus, Angel, Liam whatever you want to call him, is one of my all time favorite fictional characters, and absolutely my favorite of the vampires I’ll be talking about here. We first met him in the “Welcome to The Hellmouth” pilot for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon created him specifically to be Buffy’s wrong guy. What could be more awful for her, than to love a vampire, when it’s not only her job, but her divine mandate to destroy vampires and demons? He was the ultimate bad boy she had to stay away from, and couldn’t.

Thank God it didn’t just end there. Angel eventually became one of the most complicated, layered and amazing characters in the Buffyverse, which is saying something, because most of the characters are layered, complicated and amazing.  It starts in an episode entitled, “Angel,” where Buffy learns that he is a vampire, and an exceptionally famous and dangerous one at that. She (and we) learn, however, that a group of gypsies cursed Angel with a soul, so unlike most vampires, he has feelings, and more tortuously, can feel guilt and remorse. In this universe Vampires are sociopaths, they don’t feel things.  But Angel feels all kinds of things. And one of the most important things that he feels is love, and even more important than that, he feels love for Buffy.

The brilliant, Buffy Season 2 arc, in which Angel loses his soul and becomes Angelus again and all because he and Buffy had sex, and he liked it! Because the over arching theme of Buffy was that Buffy’s literal demons could also be manifestations of her figurative demons, this particular one was, “When you lose your virginity to an older guy, he becomes an asshole who no longer values your relationship.” Except in Buffy and Angel’s case it was, “you lose your virginity to an older guy and he no longer values your relationship, your sacred duty, or life in any kind of capacity and becomes a psycho killer.” Eventually, after killing a lot of people, and with some help from Spike (ohhh, Spike, he doesn’t get a place here because he’s not exactly good. If I ever get into a morally ambiguous hot blond vampire thing, I can talk about Spike, and Eric from True Blood, and Rosalie Cullen) Buffy and Co. get Angel his soul back, and send him to hell.

Yeah, this is where the “women they love,” thing comes in to play big time. Because part of what makes Angel more compelling than most of the other vampires on this list is that he’s in love with the woman is chosen by divine mandate (the powers that be) to destroy all of his kind. And even when it practically destroys her, she sends him to hell, because she has to. Because he hurt people she loved, and people she had never even heard of. And what’s even more amazing, is Angel understands this, forgives her for it, and it makes him love her even more.

Of course after twenty episodes of that, he gets fed up and runs away and gets his own show, where he solves crimes and impregnates another vampire, and does some other stupid stuff. But the over arching theme of Angel is that he is striving to become human. And why, would a super powered awesome vampire want to become human? Well, to be with the woman he loves. Which, if you believe in comic book sequels, is exactly what happens…um sort of, none of that is really easy to understand, because that’s how Joss Whedon rolls.

Beyond Angel, there are of course, other “good” vampires, and I might as well get my least favorite out of the way after my favorite. I’m talking about the sparkly, tree climbing, Volvo driving control freak that twelve year old girls all over the world swoon for, Mr. Edward Cullen.  Look, I’m not saying I hate Edward. Actually, when I read the Twilight books, I greatly enjoyed the character. I’ve been Team Jacob since minute one, but I at least saw Edward’s appeal. I absolutely understood why some girls would prefer him, and I totally understood why Bella Swann preferred him. Actually, my favorite thing about the Twilight universe is one of the most overlooked elements of Meyer’s take on vampires.

The constant complaint, from plenty of my friends, is that Twilight’s vampires aren’t vampires in the strictest sense. They go out in the day time, they can’t be killed with a stake, don’t mind garlic, or crosses, or silver or any of the other traditional vampire stuff. However, they are immortal, do subsist on blood (animal or human, depending on the clan) and don’t age. The sparkly thing, OK, most people are judging that off of the movies, who not only did a terrible job of portraying it visually, they also didn’t explain it properly.

In the Twilight universe, vampires are frozen in whatever state they were in when they became a vampire. They become a magnified eternal version of whoever they were in that moment. So Edward, who was an overly serious minded seventeen year old boy impatient to enlist in World War I, becomes forever stuck in the mindset of a serious minded seventeen year old boy preparing to go to war. He’s overly defensive and possessive for that reason. And Bella, who is an old soul no matter how you look at it, and is shy, serious minded herself, and used to taking care of people, is drawn to someone who’s main drive is to take care of her.

Another more physical result of this freezing, is that the vampires become like a sort of living rock. They sparkle but they aren’t “shimmery” it isn’t like they’re covered in glitter. They sparkle when they catch the light, like quartz or some other semi precious stone. It’s still a little stupid, but in context, it’s a lot less stupid. And if you consider the emotional consequences, which are laid out better in the books, because they’re explored through Edward’s “siblings” Rosalie and Jasper, (and kind of Emmet) it all makes a lot more sense.  And it makes Edward slightly less abhorrent and the attraction between him and Bella a little less, well, “huh?” It also helps when they’re being played by people in your head and not Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who are basically just awful.

In the end, I’d still probably pick Jacob, but this isn’t about werewolves or my obsession with “the other guy,” it’s about vampires. Those are other posts for other days!

If we really want to go into the darkness, it would be impossible to ignore Bill Compton. Bill is, well, I’m pretty sure Bill is just meant to be a sex object. I never quite understood his character. I did understand that he was like some weird Edward/Angel mash up with a southern accent. (And before anyone jumps down my throat, I know that “The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries” which inspired True Blood predate Twilight. However, they didn’t come in to my pop culture sphere until after) Anyway, Bill’s entire existence seems to be only to protect Sookie from other vampires, and have sex with Sookie. I have never seen him be motivated by anything else. But I never enjoyed the books, and when the show decided that Sookie was a fairy, I stopped watching, so maybe things changed.

I dig his backstory though. William Compton was a Confederate soldier on his way home to rural Louisiana. Along the way he stopped at a home, looking for some food, shelter, standard wandering soldier on his way home fare. The woman living there introduced herself as Marlena, said she a widow and welcomed him in. After eating and drinking, she invited him in to her bed. A married and honorable man, Bill refused her, but not without saying that she shouldn’t sell herself short that way. He went to sleep and when he woke up, Marlena was drinking his blood.

See, Marlena was a crazy ass vampire. She decided that Bill’s refusal to sleep with her made him a worthy companion.  So she changed him in to a vampire, and revealed that this is what she does, she welcomes traveling soldiers, gets them fed, and when they take her up on the sex she kills them! Yay! Bill is disgusted and briefly tries to return to his human life. This fails miserably. Then he goes on to live with Marlena randomly killing people and being fabulous for a good fifty or so years. Then TruBlood get invented, Bill comes out of the coffin and starts dating a pretty little telepathic waitress, who’s actually a fairy.

The last vampire that I cannot get enough of, also gets the least amount of attention of any on this list. His name is Simon Lewis. He comes from a book series, The Mortal Instruments. You should read them, because they’re amazing. Simon is a terrifically over looked brother of the good vampires, mostly because unless you’re an x-core fangirl, you’re probably not terribly familiar with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments Series. Even I overlooked them until this year. (I was suffering from Twilight/True Blood backlash, I wanted nothing to do with the Supernatural for a while.) But I’ve become a massive fan and a huge advocate of these books (and their companion series, The Infernal Devices). The main plot is an epic, tragic, ridiculous, love story between Shadowhunters (demon killers) Clary Fray and Jace Wayland. That’s far too complicated to get into here. But one of the most compelling side plots, of which there are many, concerns Clary’s best friend Simon who is turned in to a vampire in Book Two.

Simon is unique among vampires in The Mortal Instruments series for several reasons. His best friend is a Shadowhunter, as is his sort of girlfriend (Isabelle Lightwood). He’s also known as The Daylighter, because he drank Jace’s blood (Jace is part angel, yes I know) so he can go outside in the day time. Clary also drew the Mark of Cain on his forehead in order to protect him (Clary has magical drawing powers, I know, OK?  But the books actually are awesome). So he’s an invincible vampire who can go out in the day time. Oh and at the end of Book Five, he gets blessed by an angel so that he isn’t among the damned anymore.

I know I’m making him seem like the worst kind of Cullen, going out in the day, not actually being evil at all, but see that’s not what’s interesting about Simon, or about what Clare did with Simon. What’s interesting is that Simon is Jewish. As a result traditional methods of vampire harm, (aside from the day time stuff, because like I said, unique) because things like crosses, holy water etc. are Christian symbols, and Simon doesn’t believe in their power. However, the Sign of Solomon, The Star of David, these all burn his skin. For a short while in Book 3, The Shadowhunters imprison Simon, and do so by building a cell in the shape of a Star of David with a silver doorknob emblazoned with the sign of Solomon. It’s a very, very cool character quirk that makes him interesting. Because of being a Daylighter and having different weaknesses than the others, Simon doesn’t fit in with other vampires. This makes him extra broody and sarcastic.

Which, when it comes down to it, is what the whole thing is all about, right? These guys brood, snark and are slightly dangerous, and that’s what’s so very attractive about them.