If ever I made a list of personal weaknesses in books, vampires would make the top five. As often as I have professed to hate them/be sick of them, I love me some bloodsuckers and have more vampire books to my name than I am willing to admit.
So why do they appeal so damn much? There are numerous theories discussed, and they're interesting discussions to be sure, but when it comes right down to it, I like vampires because it's really hard not to admire something that overcame death and came back stronger than ever. They aren't zombies, who lost more than a little bit in the transition. It probably doesn't hurt that "stronger than ever" also means "hotter than ever and apparently in need of lots of sex".
Whether you go with Dracula, Lord Ruthven, Carmilla, Varney, or any of the other numerous options, they are not the sorts of creatures one wants to piss off. They're as fascinating as they are bad, that red button that says "do not push" that we all push while cackling gleefully.
These days, it's the "classier" vampire that is prevalent, creatures who are ancient, powerful, but educated and usually crazy good looking (occasionally sparkly, it's impossible anymore not to mention the sparkles). They didn't start out that way, and while they were certainly more terrifying back in the days when they were beasts that people feared enough they actually made vampire hunting kits, they certainly got a lot more fun once stories like Dracula came along.
Vampires as nobles, as educated pretty boys (and women, because Carmilla could hold her own with the pretty boys) are the more popular versions today, and have been since books like The Vampyre. We still like them scary and deadly, but vampires as hideous monsters is just never as popular as vampires with a touch of pretty, a dash of angst, and the potential that they're just misunderstand bad boys rather than out and out evil.
It's also rare to have a vampire book that does not have a powerful sexual element to the hunting/feeding. This has been a trend almost since the inception of pretty vampires, and it's rare not to find it even in small measure. But that's half the fun, if not all the fun—the feeding itself is an intimate act; it's hard not to be affected in some way when you are drinking the blood of a person, whether you intend to kill them in doing so or not. Vampires aren't just predators looking for a kill. They're attached to their prey in a wholly unique way. A little bit tricky to feed on what you used to be, what you sometimes still wish to be, depending on the angst level of the vampire involved. Bad enough to need to feed, but throw in sexy times, and you've got even more complications, and everybody loves complications.
So why do vampires rock? They overcame death to come back better than ever, they're hot, hungry, horny hunters with a unique relationship to their prey that leaves them vulnerable even as they remain predator. There's a million ways to spin the concept of a vampire and no dearth of authors willing to do so, which makes this particular addict very happy indeed.
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