Thursday, 22 April 2010
Vampire Week: Review - Vampires: The Complete Guide to Vampire Mythology by Charlotte Montague
Released: March 4th, 2010
Grade rating: A-
In the West the vampire myth is widely thought to have been based on the life of Vlad the Impaler, a 15th century Wallachian warrior-prince whose devotion to cruelty and killing made the lives of his subjects miserable, bloody and short. However, bloodsuckers of all shapes and sizes feature in many cultures. VAMPIRES explores these diverse myths and legends, their impact upon popular culture and the possible explanations behind such phenomena.
Vampires is a lavishly illustrated look at vampire myths and legends, spanning hundreds of years and many different countries and cultures. Author Charlotte Montague has clearly meticulously researched the subject, and I can only imagine the time it must have taken her to accumulate all the relevant material.
It's a veritable source of information where vampires are concerned, and begins with an introduction into the undead, both in myth and the media. From there, it goes on to explore the origin of vampires, before moving on to myths and legends. I found the 'Myths and Legends' section fascinating, and especially enjoyed learning about the Chupacabra, which is an urban legend focusing on a "goat-eating beast". I'd never heard of a Chupacabra before, but it sounds pretty terrifying. Any creature that is said to run around like a one metre high dinosaur with long back legs and short front ones is sure to haunt anyone's dreams!
Vampires also has a section titled 'Vampire Devotees', which profiles people who actively pursue the vampire lifestyle, such as Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory. It's interesting to find out about the real side of vampirism, though it might take a little bit more to convince me that the undead really do roam the earth.
Next up is the last section, and probably my favourite, 'Vampires of the Imagination'. It covers everything from Bram Stoker's Dracula, modern vampire fiction, vampire novels, and vampires on screen, in movies and in music. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel get a couple of dedicated pages, as does True Blood and Twilight. While I do love this whole section, I think it could have been more in-depth. A lot of YA fiction, like The Morganville Vampires, Vampire Academy and Blue Bloods series, was missing, and I think they're important players in today's slew of vampire novels. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (which, by the way, is one of the best vampire books ever written) did get a big mention, though, so I can't complain too much.
Overall, Vampires is a fantastic tome of vampire lore, and is one I think any fan of the fanged will enjoy. I'm hoping Charlotte Montague might want to delve into vampires in entertainment in more detail one day, and if she does, I'll be first in line to pick up a copy!