Past Features

Turning Off The TV #26: Horror October Special Edition

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes. This is a special Horror October edition of the feature, with lots more recommendations under a general theme. Obviously, the theme is horror (surprise, surprise!), but I’ve separated the books out by the main element of the story and suggested a film for each one. Each cover leads to the Goodreads page for the book.

Haunted houses e.g. Poltergeist

The Haunting of Hill House Amityville Horror The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

Experimentation e.g. Splice

The Madman's Daughter Broken The Heavens Rise

Ghosts e.g. Paranormal Activity

Anna Dressed In Blood The Turn Of The Screw The Graveyard Book

Werewolves e.g. The Howling

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy Shiver Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

Terrifying beasts e.g. Trollhunter

The Terror The Ruins Snowblind

Vampires e.g. Nosferatu

Carmilla Interview with the Vampire The Historian

Do you have any recommendations to add? What are some of your favourite elements or tropes of the horror genre?

Misc.

Horror October: Horror Books Read This Year

HorrorOctober2014

For today’s Horror October post, I wanted to share the books I’ve read this year that fit the theme – some are horror, others more thrillers, others just plain creepy!

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is definitely one of my highlights of the year! I’d been anticipating this sequel to The Shining ever since I first read about it, before the cover was even released. Hodder sent me a review copy earlier in the year, and it was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve already read The Shining then hurry up and read this!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is not so much a traditional horror, it is really a thriller, but it shows just how horrific humans can be to each other. It’s hard to say much about this book without giving anything away, so I won’t! I’m looking forward to seeing the film of this one too.

  • My rating for Gone Girl: [simple-rating stars=”four-stars”]

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz was an interesting read. It was told entirely from interviews, newspaper articles and other sources of media. Unfortunately its format meant I had no connection whatsoever to any of the characters, and the ending was just incredibly frustrating.

The Quick (The Quick #1) by Lauren Owen

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick was also another unique novel: wonderfully Gothic and rather slow paced. I took a while to read this one for various reasons so I think it might need a re-read at some point, but I enjoyed it a lot. I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, in April, and definitely made a fool of myself. Oops.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy had me super excited – it was a werewolf novel with a twist and had such wonderful reviews. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t agree with them. The writing was wonderful but the story just felt… lacking. Also it promised me a good scare and just didn’t deliver!

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris was another disappointment. I really love her Southern Vampire Mysteries series (or the True Blood books if you prefer), even if the last few just felt like a chance to make some easy money. So I was hoping a new series would be a new start, and whilst Midnight Crossroad wasn’t bad, there was nothing special about it.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is another one that’s had great reviews, but I just didn’t get along with. Too many vampires and falling for the bad boy, ugh… The concept of the Coldtowns was original, but vampires? So overdone right now… It does have one of the most horrific opening scenes I’ve ever read though.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is hard to explain in terms of the horror genre without giving away some big plot points. I definitely wasn’t expecting the horror element when I started reading it, and it’s definitely a memorable part… I read it with my Goodreads book group and it was pretty well received!

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is one of my stand-out books of the year. I wasn’t expecting to love it so much, but it pulled me right in. It may be aimed at younger readers but it is SO amazing. Think a mix of Sherlock and Supernatural, with teenage protaganists.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any horror recommendations based on what you’ve read this year?

Museum of Literary Wonders

Museum of Literary Wonders #4

Museum of Literary Wonders

Hello, and welcome back to the Museum of Literary Wonders! Are you ready for another part of the tour? Perhaps some of you have just joined us for the first time today, in that case let me explain. I am Rinn, the curator and your tour guide for today. The museum holds many wonderful objects from many different worlds and universes, preserved in this museum because of their importance – perhaps they hold a lot of meaning, perhaps they’re important plot points or maybe just because they’re pretty… For whatever reason, they have been carefully stored in the museum collection so that generation after generation can learn about them. Without further ado, let us go on!

Sabriel


museum_bells

The name of these Necromancer’s Bells is deceiving, as they were also used by the Abhorsen in the Old Kingdom, both to bind and raise the dead. Made of silver with mahogany handles, they are infused with both Charter and Free Magic, and as a result are very dangerous. A full set has seven bells, the names of which are Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael. In the hands of the wrong person, they could cause utter chaos, hence the high security around this exhibit.

——————————————–

Jeep


museum_jeep

Perhaps you remember reading in the newspaper about a new dinosaur ‘theme park’ with real live dinosaurs, and how it all went terribly wrong? People eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex, ripped to shreds by velociraptors? No? Well anyway, this is one of the jeeps from Jurassic Park – one of the few that wasn’t stomped on or ripped apart by a hungry king of the lizards. And don’t worry, it was carefully checked before it arrived here – no compsognathuses hiding away in the boot or anything…

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True Blood


museum_trueblood

Perhaps you recognise this bottle of True Blood. Perhaps it’s something you consume on a regular basis. It may be an every day object for some people, but it also marks a historical event: the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, which enabled vampires to come ‘out of the coffin’, and reveal their existence. The revelation that vampires were real changed a LOT – new rules and regulations, political and religious stances against and for vampires, many people turned against neighbours and friends. Whatever you may think about it, it was certainly a game changer.

Are there any questions about today’s tour? What exhibits would you like to see next?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #17: Supernatural

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the fourth of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Bloodlust’ (Season Two, Episode Three)?

Vampire Hunter D Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton Let The Right One In

‘Bloodlust’ is one of the episodes featuring the vampire hunter named Gordon, so here I’ve picked out a couple of books featuring vampire hunters and their prey. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano is a well-known manga, and later anime series, in which humankind are recovering from control by vampires known as the Nobility. Every village and town wants a Hunter to protect them from these bloodthirsty creatures. Although I’ve not read any of the Anita Blake novels, Guilty Pleasures is the start of a very popular series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Like Gordon, Anita is a vampire hunter – but in this case, vampires are mostly protected by law. I’ve also included Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist because despite not featuring vampire hunters, it’s very strong as far as vampire novels go. It’s so very gory and graphic that it made me feel physically sick in certain parts. If you like your stories gory, then look no further…

Enjoyed ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ (Season Two, Episode Four)?

Fever by Wayne Simmons World War Z by Max Brooks Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

This episode featured a young girl resurrected as a zombie by her best friend, who was in love with her. Fever by Wayne Simmons is very much a traditional zombie novel, with plenty of guts, gore and foolish characters that you just KNOW are going to become zombie dinner! I won a copy from Goodreads a few years ago. World War Z by Max Brooks was recently adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt (and Peter Capaldi as a W.H.O Doctor!!). Unlike Fever, this focuses more on the human reaction and sheer terror than the actual people getting their faces eaten… so if you want something a bit less squirm-inducing, this may be the better choice! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion may be even better for the squeamish: it’s a rom-zom novel! It follows a young man, known only as ‘R’, who falls in love with a human girl. This one was also been recently adapted into a film, featuring Nicolas Hoult.

Enjoyed ‘Crossroad Blues’ (Season Two, Episode Eight)?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This episode plays on the urban legend of people selling their souls to the devil at a crossroads for eternal youth, beauty, talent or other things. The hellhounds then come to take their souls. What I loved about this episode is that it was named after, and also featured, the song ‘Crossroad Blues’ by Robert Johnson – a gorgeous piece of old blues. Supposedly Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his talent, which allowed him to create the familiar blues sound we know today! Perhaps the most well-known of the Sherlock Holmes books, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is the story of a giant ghostly hound, supposedly haunting the Baskerville family for generations. When the case is brought to Sherlock he originally dismisses it as nonsense, but perhaps there is something behind it… Hellhounds also make an appearance in Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz, and are described as having rotten flesh. And finally, hellhounds appear as a form of Shadowspawn in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Their saliva is poisonous, and much like the hellhounds in Supernatural, once they’ve set their sights on prey they do not give up until they’ve caught it.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any TV shows or films you’d like to see in this feature?

Review

Review: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the pubisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Opening with one of the most horrific beginnings I can remember in Young Adult fiction, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown starts with a young girl named Tana waking up after a party. After extricating herself from the bathtub in which she slept, she emerges into the living room to find the usual remains of a alcohol-fueled house party – empty bottles, bowls of half-eaten nibbles, clothes strewn around the room – along with the corpses of her friends and classmates. The only other person left alive happens to be her ex-boyfriend Aidan, whom she finds tied to a bed, and in the company of a vampire.

I have read in a couple of reviews that some people were put off by Tana’s ‘party girl image’. I don’t really understand this criticism: if I stopped reading a book because a character had an interest or trait that was unfamiliar to me then I’d never finish a book. Needless to say, I wouldn’t get very far in fantasy or science fiction. However, I did not really like Tana very much – for one, she was incredibly fickle. I was mostly confused about what she actually wanted: she couldn’t seem to decide whether she wanted to remain human or become a vampire, at times she was both strongly against and for the idea. Her relationship with Aidan was also pretty twisted and she allowed herself to be used as well as using him, which was sad. She’s obviously quite a troubled soul. Unlike Midnight and Winter, who were pretty much the ultimate ‘typical’ angsty Goth teens, and who probably have a perfectly normal home life that they’re unhappy with for reasons unknown. They just annoyed me more than anything.

I can’t really explain why, but this book just did not live up to the hype for me. In a world that’s over-saturated with vampire books and films, this didn’t feel like anything particularly original. I did like the idea of Coldtowns and mixing the archaic view of vampires with the new by introducing a reality TV show, but it just wasn’t enough. I felt the book really dragging in some spots; I don’t know if it was because I had about a week where I didn’t have time to read so the story sort of got broken into two.

Overall, not particularly my cup of tea. A good read for paranormal and vampire fans, but there was nothing of note for me here.

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #9: True Blood

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: True Blood.

true blood dvd

Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.

I am unashamedly a big fan of this wonderfully cheesy series. I’ve read all the books (written by Charlaine Harris), and finally caught up with the TV show last year. Although the series is VERY different to the books – the only season that follows the book plotline is season one and partly two – they’re both gory, silly and very, very fun. So apart from the obvious: read the books by Charlaine Harris – here’s some other books you might enjoy if you’re a fan of True Blood.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

One of the masters of fantasy wrote a vampire novel in his early days, and it is seriously underrated. Set in nineteenth century Louisiana, it follows a riverboat captain called Abner Marsh who is approached by a strange businessman called Joshua York, and offered a very good deal. However, York is not quite as he seems, and Marsh may have gotten himself into something deadly… It has all the traditions of a vampire story, with a more unusual setting. Yes, it’s Louisiana and Mississippi, like much of True Blood (and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), but it’s on a steamboat! Vampires! On a steamboat! Plus you can’t go wrong with GRRM’s writing (or maybe I’m a bit of a fangirl…).

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

I reviewed this one a while ago, and it really impressed me. A retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, from the point of view of one of Dracula’s transformed victims, Incarnation is a wonderfully written book. The tone really captures the writing style of the period in which it is set, and the author’s descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and dark London streets are very eerie. I was so happy that I requested it from Edelweiss, as it was really nothing like I was expecting. My review was also chosen to be featured on Edelweiss, which was exciting.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Less of a traditional vampire novel than the other two, but still a brilliant tale. It’s a huge book, with a wide cast of characters. In The Passage, vampires are created through a virus, similar to that of I Am Legend. The story follows a group of survivors, as well as a young girl who is central to the whole thing – but they’re not quite sure how. The sequel, The Twelve came out last year and I still need to get round to that one.

Are you a fan of True Blood? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: A Guide to Doctor Who

 

A lot of the Sci-Fi Month participants are big fans of Doctor Who. But what about those of you that aren’t? As today is the fiftieth anniversary of the show I’ve put together a guide to the show (as best as I can…) for people who don’t know much about it and would like to know more, or any new fans!  Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

 

What is Doctor Who? It’s a British TV series that started in 1963, about a Timelord known as ‘the Doctor’ who travels through space and time in his TARDIS. Aided by a variety of trusty companions, he saves people, civilisations, worlds – even the universe.

Or, if you’d like the more long-winded Wikipedia synopsis:

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

Timelord? TARDIS?? Timelords are time-travelling humanoid aliens from the planet Gallifrey. They are able to see all of time, as it was, as it is and as it will be – hence their name. They prevent time from being altered or re-written. Timelords also have two hearts and are capable of regenerating, meaning they change their appearance and essentially are reborn, instead of dying (each different appearance is known as a ‘regeneration’). A Timelord can be killed though, if they use up all their regenerations or are killed whilst regenerating. The number of maximum regenerations was stated as thirteen, but the shows producers and writers have recently hinted that more regenerations are available.

And as for the TARDIS… well you must have seen this at least once before:

Vrrrrroom… vrrrrrooom!

The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is the preferred method of transport for a Timelord. It is a spaceship, and the Doctor’s takes the appearance of a police telephone box. Doesn’t look very roomy does it? Well… it’s bigger on the inside.

 
The TARDIS interior often changes with each regeneration, and this particular TARDIS interior belongs to the Eleventh Doctor. We’re often told (but don’t get to see) about the various rooms in the TARDIS, including a swimming pool and a library (or occasionally a swimming pool in the library).
 
Regenerations? Do explain… Time for a handy infographic!
 

 
These are the many faces of the Doctor. He has currently changed his face eleven times, and as Matt Smith is leaving this year, will regenerate for a twelfth time soon. Each regeneration is like a different person, with his own personality and traits. For example, Eleven is rather childish, and has an obsession with bow ties. In comparison, Nine was much more serious (and Northern). Four was unpredictable, with a quirky sense of humour but could also be rather somber. However the Doctor retains all memories from previous regenerations.
 
You mentioned the Doctor has ‘companions’? Yep, throughout the show the Doctor has always had at least one other person travelling with him (apart from the occasional special episode). It would take a long time to talk about all the previous companions, so I’m going to introduce you to the companions from New Who (the rebooted version of the show from 2005). You can read about the others here though (may contain spoilers). 
 



What about all the evil that the Doctor fights? The Doctor never really fights, a lot of his battles involve outwitting the enemy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the villains of Doctor Who, as part of the fun is seeing what they can actually do, so instead I’ve put together a collage of various monsters and villains! If you want to read more about the creatures that the Doctor and his companions encounter, the BBC website has some great monster profiles.
 
 
1. Weeping Angels  2. Cybermen  3. Vashda Nerada  4. Daleks  5. Judoon  6. Vampires/Sisters of the Water  7. Sontarans  8. Silurians/Homo Reptilia  9. Smilers  10. The Silence  11. Peg Dolls  12. Gangers   13. The Ood
 
So… where does the Doctor actually go? To the past AND the future! He’s been back in time to Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, visited good ol’ Will Shakespeare, met Queen Victoria (and protected her from werewolves)… and as for the future, there’s just so much that he and his companions have seen – you should watch it for yourself.
 

I hope this has encouraged you to give the series a shot, or been a fun read if you’re already a fan!

 
Misc.

Horror October: Representations of Vampires

vampire (noun), pronunciation: /ˈvampʌɪə/
(in European folklore) a corpse supposed to leave its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth. — from the Oxford English Dictionary.

As part of today’s Horror October post, I plan on discussing the different representations of vampires in media. Vampires throughout history share many common features and habits, but some books, films or TV shows portray them in slightly different ways. I’d love to hear your views, or input on any other representations of vampires.
 
The very first vampire of literature appeared in eighteenth century poetry, and was soon followed by various works of gothic fiction, such as The Vampyre by John William Polidori  (1819), Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872) and of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
 
Whilst vampire literature has always been a popular genre, it has gone through a bit of boom recently with series like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novels and the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer – not to mention the countless films, TV shows and video games.
 
I’ve picked out five different books/series that feature vampires in various ways – of course this is not a definitive list, and some have been chosen purely because they go against the norm.

 

  • Dracula is very much the ‘traditional’ vampire – although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he created the ‘modern’ vampire that we know today.
  • The book was published in 1897 and is mostly set in England, particularly around Whitby (in Yorkshire) and London.
  • Count Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, a fifteenth century prince of Wallachia. He was known as Vlad Dracula, or ‘Vlad, son of Dracul’. However, Stoker was inspired more by his name than his nature.
  • Dracula is a nocturnal creature, with an insatiable thirst for blood. He preys on innocents, particularly young women. He cannot go out in the daylight, and has a weakness for garlic – he can also be killed by being staked in the heart and beheaded. Dracula is able to turn into a dog, which is how he sneaks aboard the boat bound for Whitby.
  • Female vampires are featured in the book, referred to as ‘the sisters’ (or Brides of Dracula) and are shown as very seductive creatures.
  • It has since inspired a whole genre – the vampire novel. Some favourites of mine inspired by Dracula include Incarnation by Emma Cornwall and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.
  • As well as books, Dracula has inspired many a film adaptation – some of the most famous being the 1958 version featuring Christopher Lee, the 1992 version featuring Gary Oldman and many, many Hammer horror films.
  • And don’t forget the TV shows – like Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

  • A lesser known vampire story, Carmilla was actually published in 1872, twenty-five years before Dracula.
  • It is about a young woman who finds herself attracted to a female vampire named Carmilla. Although the text never specifically refers to the sexual attraction between the young woman, Laura, and Carmilla – as you would expect in a book of that period – it is obvious to the modern reader.
  • Carmilla only selects female victims, and whilst mostly nocturnal can actually go out in daylight, unlike Dracula. Like Dracula, however, she can change her shape and chooses the appearance of a black cat.
  • There have been many adaptations of Carmilla, including a 1964 version featuring Christopher Lee (again!). It is also supposedly the influence for Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
  • True Blood references Carmilla – the vampire hotel in Dallas where Sookie and co stay is called Hotel Carmilla. The main antagonist in the 2009 film Lesbian Vampire Killers, starring Mat Horne and James Corden, is named Carmilla.

  • The Sookie Stackhouse Novels are a series of novels set in a fictional town in Louisiana, and featuring vampires, werewolves and a whole host of other supernatural beings. I wrote a guide to the series as part of Horror October two weeks ago.
  • The vampires in the books are very traditional: they can’t enter a house without an invitation from the owner, they have a thirst for blood, daylight burns them, they sleep in holes in the ground/dark spaces/coffins.
  • However, none of the vampires can transform into other creatures. Some do have extra powers e.g. Eric Northman can fly.
  • With the invention of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, vampires ‘came out of the coffin’ – meaning they could live alongside humans and drink the synthetic blood, instead of feeding off of humans. However, some still do – mostly with the human’s consent.
  • The whole idea of the vampire in this series is very sexual – vampires themselves seem to have an insatiable sexual appetite, plus biting during sex heightens the pleasure for both vampires and humans.
  • Some see the series as a commentary on gay rights: vampires are denied many of the rights that humans have. A commonly used slogan by the anti-vampire Christian groups is ‘God hates fangs’, a play on the derogatory term for a homosexual person.

  • A huge teen hit sensation, The Twilight Saga tells the story of a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire.
  • The vampires in Twilight are a rather radical change from the more ‘traditional’ vampires. They can go out in sunlight, but have to avoid direct sunlight because their skin sparkles. This means that some have integrated into society, but they have to choose more temperate climates in which to live, and must also move on from these places when it is obvious that they are not aging.
  • The vampires that have chosen to live within human society try to avoid feeding off of humans, and instead feed from animals. Vampires that eat humans have red eyes, whilst ‘vegetarian’ vampires have bronze eyes.
  • The series is responsible for a recent boom in the paranormal romance market, particularly series featuring vampires and werewolves. The books have also been adapted into films, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

  • I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic novel written by Richard Matheson, about a virus that affects the human race. It causes symptoms that look like vampirism, and follows Robert Neville, the last man left unaffected in Los Angeles.
  • The ‘vampires’ are created by a disease, for which there is no cure – but Neville is immune. He keeps himself alive by barricading himself in his house at night, and uses garlic, crucifixes and mirrors – but it is never shown whether these have any effect on the vampires, or whether Neville is just playing along with the legends.
  • The vampires can be killed by a stake to the heart, by exposure to direct sunlight or inflicting deep wounds on their bodies – the bacteria become parasites and consume the vampires.
  • Whilst the infected show many vampiric tendencies, it could be argued that they are zombies.
  • The book has been adapted four times, the most recent being the 2007 film I Am Legend, featuring Will Smith as Robert Neville.
  • Another novel that plays on this idea is The Passage by Justin Cronin, where vampirism is also spread by a virus.

Of course I don’t have the time or space to discuss every series or book I can think of – are there any that really stood out to you with their portrayal of vampires?

Misc.

Horror October: Rinn’s Guide to True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse novels)

Hello lovely readers. Many a time in the past, I’ve spoken about the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series of novels, written by Charlaine Harris, so I thought I’d do a guide for those of you out there who don’t know much about it. I will clearly label all spoilers (which will be separate from the main part of the text) and sometimes things may be more subjective than factual… like how I feel about Eric’s face. And body. But I will try to enlighten you about this great series, and why it blows all those other vampire-based books out of the water (only partly through the medium of gifs…). There are some large differences between the later books and TV series, and I’ll try to make these clear!

First things first. The series comprises of thirteen books all set in the fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps, with occasional excursions to Baton Rouge, Monroe and other states such as Mississippi and Texas. The books are told from the point of view of one Miss Sookie Stackhouse, waitress and telepath.

Yep, she’s a telepath. Poor ol’ Sookie has the misfortune of being able to hear the thoughts of others – which may sound pretty cool, but when you do the sort of job she does, you hear many not entirely sober thoughts that you maybe didn’t want to know. As you can imagine, this is quite distracting, and as a result she’s gained a bit of a reputation for being crazy. She also hasn’t had much experience with guys – being able to hear their every thought does not a romantic setting make.

Delicious. (image source)


But there are certain types of people that Sookie can’t hear the thoughts of. Vampires, not at all; shapeshifters, weres and other supernatural beings, barely. In the True Blood world, supernatural beings walk among us, vampires having recently ‘come out of the coffin’ when Japanese scientists successfully created synthetic blood, allowing them to live alongside humans without having to drink from them. Not that it stops some…


Oh, and there’s a lot of violence and gore. And sex.

The series pretty much follows the life of Sookie and her supernatural acquaintances, whom I shall now introduce. Sit down, grab a hot beverage (or a glass of True Blood perhaps) and buckle in… it’s going to be a long post.


The main protagonist of the series, Sookie Stackhouse is strong-willed and fiercely independent. A telepath, she can hear the thoughts of others and as a result finds it difficult to make friends – her only true human friends at the beginning of the series are Arlene Fowler and Tara Thornton. She works as a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, owned by her friend Sam Merlotte.

In the very first book, shortly after vampires are revealed as real, Sookie saves the life of a vampire named Bill, who later goes on to become her boyfriend. Bill is her first love – but it doesn’t last. She dates several ‘supes’, including Eric Northman (vampire), Alcide Herveaux (werewolf) and Quinn (weretiger).


She has a witty narrative voice, and is an intelligent young woman, determined to make a good future for herself. When she was just a small child, her parents were killed in a flood and she has lived with her grandmother ever since, in a ramshackle old farmhouse that has been passed down the family for generations.

[spoiler]It is revealed in the later books that Sookie is in fact part fairy, which explains why vampires find her particularly delectable – fairy blood is like vampire crack.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Sookie is badass. Well, until the ninth or tenth book – then she gets kind of boring. But honestly, she is a female protagonist that knows she doesn’t need a male in her life to make her happy, and sometimes she gives into her more primal instincts. So basically, she’s human (… or is she? *laughs evilly*)

Sookie is portrayed by Anna Paquin in the TV series.

A true Southern gentleman, Bill Compton is the first vampire Sookie meets – and her first love. Born in 1840, he fought for the South in the Civil War and was made a vampire twenty-eight years later. He returned to Bon Temps after vampires became public, to trace his descendants.

Bill is very caring of Sookie when they are in a relationship, but she gets frustrated by all the time he spends working on a project – a catalogue of all the vampires in North America. He later reveals something to Sookie that truly ends their relationship, but clearly still harbours feelings for her throughout the books. Bill is the official investigator for the local area – vampires have a strict hierarchy in this series, with various sheriffs across a state, and a king or queen of each state on top of them.

[spoiler]Bill betrays Sookie by giving information about her to the Queen of Louisiana, his boss. Their relationship was originally a way for Bill to learn about her, but he soon fell in love with her anyway. In the TV series, Bill becomes King of Louisiana and takes a very dark turn.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Eh, I’m not a big Bill fan. Especially TV-Bill. I find him kind of boring and a bit of jerk later on. I do like his accent though…

Bill is portrayed by Stephen Moyer in the TV series.

Eric Northman, at over 1000 years old, is one of the most powerful vampires in the Bon Temps area. He was originally from Sweden, the son of a Jarl, and is commonly referred to as a ‘blonde viking’ by Sookie. He is the sheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana, which includes Bon Temps and Shreveport, where Eric runs his very own vampire bar, Fangtasia.

His progeny is Pam, a dry-witted and sultry vampire lady, who helps him run Fangtasia. Eric and Pam have a very close relationship, and it is often around Pam that Eric shows a more tender side.


In the fourth book, Eric suffers from amnesia as part of a witches’ curse, and Sookie ends up looking after him. He is reduced to a defenceless child, nothing like his former self – he is sweet and caring, and during this time he has a brief romance with Sookie.


Eric is also officially the hottest vampire in the entire state of Louisiana. Fact.

[spoiler] Eric doesn’t remember his romance with Sookie, but memories eventually come back to him. He still loves her, in fact he had been harbouring feelings for her since book three, and the two eventually get ‘married’ (vampire style!), although it is more for Sookie’s protection than an urge to be a married couple.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: No, the above was not my opinion. It’s fact. Very factual. I gladly accept that it is fact. Eric is my favourite. Yum yum. I like his cheeky sense of humour, how he always seems to say something deadly serious and then you see this little glint in his eye and know he’s joking. Plus it amuses me that despite the fact that he is one thousand years old, and has lived (questionable… un… lived?) through so much, sometimes things like technology and modern inventions baffle him.

Eric is portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard in the TV series.

Pam Swynford de Beaufort is the vampire progeny and business partner of Eric Northman. She was born in London, and met Eric there in 1905, when he turned her. However, in the TV series she is shown as the madam of a Chicago brothel.

Incredibly loyal to Eric, and willing to die for him, she often covers up her true feelings with dry wit and sarcasm. Initially she looks down on Sookie, but eventually they grow close, Sookie even referring to Pam as the closest thing to a vampire friend she has (apart from her vampire lovers of course). 

In contrast to her demeanour, she often dresses like a surburban housewife in pastel colours – when she’s not wearing her ‘vampire’ gear for her shifts at Fangtastia.

[spoiler]These spoilers are for the show, not the book – Pam is the vampire that turns Tara Thornton, Sookie’s best friend, after Tara dies. It is also shown that she meets Eric in her brothel as he is hunting Bill and his maker, Lorena, who are killing off prostitutes as ‘easy pickings’ for sustenance.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: I love Pam, she’s so wonderfully sarky and has a really dark sense of humour. Plus in the book she has a sort of admiration/liking for Sookie, and tries hard to hide it – it’s pretty cute.

Pam is portrayed by Kristin Bauer van Straten in the TV series. Swynford de Beaufort is actually her surname in the TV series – in the books it is in fact ‘Ravenscroft’. I remembered too late!

Alcide Herveaux is a werewolf from Shreveport, who owns a surveying company with his father, Jackson Herveaux. When Sookie first meets him, he is Sookie’s ‘protection’ during a mission. He has also just recently gone through a breakup with a woman named Debbie Pelt, who has it out for Sookie…

There is definite chemistry between Alcide and Sookie, but the presence of his on-off girlfriend makes things difficult. However, Sookie and Alcide help each other out many times throughout the series, including Alcide’s run for packleader.

Physically he is a very large man: muscly and well over six foot. He also has a habit of growling, even in human form.

[spoiler]Sookie kills Alcide’s ex-girlfriend in self defense. When Debbie goes missing, Alcide tries to discover what happened to her, and using his super-wolfie senses, can smell her scent in Sookie’s kitchen. He knows that Sookie killed her, and this makes it impossible for the two of them to ever have a relationship – but he never turns Sookie in.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: I think I prefer TV-Alcide to book-Alcide. Although we get some of his back story through Sookie in the book, we actually get to see a lot more in the TV series.

Alcide is portrayed by Joe Manganiello in the TV series.

Jason Stackhouse is Sookie’s older brother, a well-known womaniser in the town of Bon Temps, and not particularly blessed in intelligence. However he more than makes up for this in the kindness of his ways, and is always looking out for his younger sister.

He works on the parish road crew in Bon Temps, and lives in his parents old house.

[spoiler]Like Sookie, Jason is part fairy which explains why many women find him so irresistible despite his infamous ways. Later on in the series he also becomes a part were-panther – he was bitten and made that way, rather than born were-panther, so he becomes a half-man, half-panther hybrid on the full moon. However, in the TV series he is bitten, but nothing becomes of it.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Totally the kind of guy I would avoid, but when you see him with Sookie he’s really a sweetie at heart. And in the TV series he turns into a bit of a badass. But just a little bit.

Jason is portrayed by Ryan Kwanten in the TV series.

Sookie’s best friend since childhood, Tara Thornton has had a hard life. Abused by her parents, she often ran to Sookie’s house to get away, so sees Sookie almost as a sister.

Book-Tara and TV-Tara differ quite a bit. Although both have had a traumatic childhood, book-Tara runs her own shop called Tara’s Togs, whereas TV-Tara has trouble keeping down a job and ends up doing occasional bar work at Merlotte’s.


Tara has several troubled relationships throughout the series, including one with a controlling vampire, but finally ends up in a happy one, as she deserves, later on.


TV-Tara is a much more interesting character than book-Tara – we get to learn so much more about her. Lafayette, the cook at Merlotte’s and her cousin in the TV series,  is very close with Tara.

[spoiler]In the TV series, Tara is killed and made vampire by Pam after Sookie and Lafayette beg her to turn Tara. As Tara hates vampires after her previous relationship with one, she is a very unstable new vampire and seems resentful towards Sookie and Lafayette, both previously her closest friends.[/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: TV-Tara is way more fun! I’m glad they developed her character and I love the dynamic between her and Lafayette.

Tara is portrayed by Rutina Wesley in the TV series.

Sam Merlotte is the owner of Merlotte’s, a popular bar and grill located in the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. He is Sookie’s boss, and there is some chemistry between them, but neither really act on it.

Sam also happens to be a shapeshifter, meaning he can take on the form of any animal, but his favourite is the border collie. He uses his heightened senses as a dog to track down several people, including murderers.

In the TV show, he has a brief relationship with Tara.

[spoiler]In the TV series, we glimpse some of Sam’s past. He used his shifting abilities to steal money and expensive goods, and eventually used the funds to start his business. [/spoiler]

Rinn’s opinion: Sam is such a sweetie and I often end up feeling sorry for him; he’s rather downtrodden. I just want a happy ending for him (I haven’t read the last book yet).

Sam is portrayed by Sam Trammell in the TV series.


The fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is home to nearly 3,000 people – including a host of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings. It is not too far from Shreveport, and comes under vampire Area 5 – Eric Northman being the Sheriff of the area. Notable Bon Temps families include the Stackhouses, the Fortenberrys, the Comptons and the Bellefleurs.


Merlotte’s Bar and Grill is a popular establishment located in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Owned by Sam Merlotte, it is a frequent destination for locals and visitors to the area. Employees include Sookie Stackhouse, Arlene Fowler, Tara Thornton (TV series) and Lafeyette Reynolds.

Fangtasia – ‘Life Begins At Night‘ – is the popular vampire nightclub owned by Eric Northman. It is located in Shreveport, and there is a strict no biting policy enforced. The local vampires take it in turns to make appearances, to draw in humans. Pam Swynford de Beaufort/Ravenscroft is also a business partner.

Sookie Stackhouse’s ramshackle farmhouse, passed down through generations of Stackhouses, is located a little ways out of Bon Temps, along the Hummingbird Road. She lives beside the local cemetery, and her closest neighbour is Bill Compton.

I hope that I have at least piqued your interest in the series – or if you’ve already read/watched it, that this was a fun read! And would you look at that, I managed to almost completely avoid using gifs!

Damnit Sam!
Here are the books available in the series:
There are also a lot of other short story compilations containing stories featuring Sookie – but here I’ve just listed the books where Charlaine Harris was the only/main author.
 
And what about the TV series?
There are currently six seasons (the sixth is airing now), and there will be a seventh and final  series. The first three or four series use main plotlines from the book – in fact series one is very loyal – but it really changes things after that. Several characters are pretty different: for example Tara has a much larger part, Lafayette is Tara’s cousin in the TV series but not the books (he’s also a more frequently recurring character), characters are added or omitted. One of Sookie’s love interests, Quinn the weretiger, has not yet appeared in the TV series. It also has the most amazing soundtrack ever, plus some of my favourite TV opening credits.
 

So that’s all for this post! Let me know if you’ve read the books, watched the show and what you think – or perhaps I’ve persuaded you to try it out? I’ve still got to read book thirteen, and watch series six myself.

 
Eric (and Rinn) out.
Thoughts

Thoughts #5: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

thoughts_16
true blood gif

This post will contain spoilers for the Sookie Stackhouse series, up to Deadlocked (book twelve).

I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels for a few years now. I made sure to read at least the first book before watching the series, because I’m the sort of person who likes to do that.

Recently, I finished book twelve, Deadlocked. There is one more left to go, it was published this May but I haven’t managed to get a copy yet. And despite the fact that, from about book eight or nine, the series has gone steadily downhill, I will be reading it. I have to know what happens!
 
Do you ever have that with a series? You’ve stuck with it for so long, had so many ups and downs, that even though it’s getting so repetitive and things have happened that you’d rather forget about, you just have to finish it.
 
It all began with the brilliant first book, Dead Until Dark. We are introduced to Sookie, a waitress from Louisiana who is a bit… unusual. She happens to be a telepath, which has resulted in some people thinking she is a bit crazy. Charlaine Harris sets the background of the story up nicely: vampires have recently ‘come out’, that is they have revealed their existence, timed with the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists. This means that they can live on this synthetic blood, without having to feed from humans. But some still do, and some humans enjoy it – they are known as fangbangers. And so the darker side of the story is revealed.
 
Sookie really is a great character. She’s strong, independent, hard-working, intelligent. When she meets Bill, she is intrigued but she doesn’t instantly fall for him, she’s not a swooning damsel in distress. In fact, she saves him. This is a character who has so many death threats,  attempted murders and injuries throughout the series, that combined with her telepathic ability, it’s a miracle that she is still sane.
 
And it’s not just Sookie that’s a bit of a badass. There are so many fantastic characters through the series (so many characters in fact, that I have forgotten some…). There are vampires, werewolves, weretigers, werepanthers, shapeshifters, maenads, fairies, elves, witches – all cleverly entwined into a modern world. But of course, with that many amazing characters, there’s also some heartbreaking deaths. Claudette, Sookie’s fairy cousin, was quite possibly the one that got me the most.  
 
To round this little section up: I love the series because it is just pure fun, fantastical creatures in the modern world, plus some sex and gore to make it just a little bit spicy!
 
Accurate representation of the series.
 
Charlaine Harris doesn’t hold back on any of that, which is what makes the series a true adult vampire series. In a world full of vampire books where the vampires are a bit… wimpy, it’s nice to have some proper vampires.
 
I’m also a fan of books set in the Southern US states. I now have a fascination with Louisiana and its history, thanks to Sookie.
 
So, why do I feel let down by the series recently?
 
When Charlaine Harris started writing the series, a quota was set down for thirteen books. I don’t know if that was when she actually wrote it, or when HBO picked the books up for TV, but now it really just feels like she is writing to fill that quota. And what other number but thirteen?
 
For me, the series really started to fall flat at the end of book nine (Dead and Gone). The Fairy War was a big event, and it feels almost like that should have been the culmination of the series, or close enough. I felt pretty hollow after that book, a bit like Sookie. 
 
 
And from then on, it feels like Charlaine Harris is writing just to fill the pages. Sookie, I do not  want to know every detail of your day. I did not need to know that you shaved your legs, or put out the rubbish. I don’t think the events of the Fairy War changed her from Sassy Sookie to Boring Narrator Sookie… I think the author just ran out of ideas.
 
Which brings me to Deadlocked. What an anti-climax! The whole plot with the cluviel dor, and Claude plotting against Niall – and it’s solved so quickly, without much fuss, that I couldn’t believe that was it. No big fight, no major drama. Just… a sudden end.
 
I don’t know what book thirteen holds. Eric is annoyed at Sookie, he’s disappeared off, possibly to hook up with Freda. I have no idea how Charlaine Harris plans to resolve everything (it better be action packed).
 
All I know is that despite not enjoying the last few books that much, I have to know how it ends.
 
 
 

Have you read the Sookie Stackhouse novels? What do you think of them?