Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Vampires - Monsters or Romeos?: Background information when reading The Passage

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Passage

by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin X
The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 784 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2011, 784 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson
Buy This Book

About this Book

Vampires - Monsters or Romeos?

This article relates to The Passage

Print Review

The vampires of folklore are hideous and frightening figures, walking corpses that feast on the blood of the living. But during the Victorian era, writers began to create stories about a different kind of vampire, typified by an aristocrat who represented both death and sexual desire, a possible reaction to the repressiveness of the times. An early example of such a tale is John Polidori's The Vampyre, (1819) in which the title character, Lord Ruthven, is a seductive nobleman.

Another example is Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1871), notable because it features a sexy female vampire who seduces and drinks the blood of a female victim. Yet, the most famous and influential of all 19th century vampire fiction was Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Stoker introduced most of the characteristics that are now considered stereotypical of the vampire: their immortality, their ability to transform into bats, wolves or mist, and their lack of reflection in a mirror. Dracula was also seductive, and did not always kill his victims for sustenance, instead he could use his bite to turn humans into undead companions.

Since Stoker, the suave, romantic vampire has been a recurring character in popular literature, as well as film. One twist on the romantic vampire that became popular with Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976) is the concept of a vampire who is uncomfortable with what he is, and rejects typical vampire ways, such as drinking human blood. Rice's interpretation has inspired many modern vampire romances in which it is the vampire's rejection of his violent and predatory nature that drives him toward a relationship with a human female and the desire to fight off other vampires to protect her, even if that means breaking the 'rules' of vampiric society. In Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, Bill sustains himself with synthetic blood; while Stefan, in L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries, drinks animal blood, as he romances and protects his girlfriend. Edward and his 'adoptive' family also make do with animal blood in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, and his choice to love a human pushes him still farther from the acceptance of vampire society.

Urban fantasy vampire novels including Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake series (which debuted in 1993 and is credited with jump-starting the urban paranormal trend), feature vampiric characters who--while they do not reject who they are--unapologetically engage in loving or sexual relationships with humans. Kim Harrison's The Hollows series features no-apologies vampires who keep people as thralls (servants from whom they feed), but also mix freely with other humans and sometimes enter equal relationships.

As vampires have changed, the heroines have also become more independent, strong, and able to hold their own against paranormal threats. Anita Blake is a far cry from the weak, sexually repressed female victims of the 19th century vampire tales, just as her vampire lover, Jean-Claude, bears only a passing resemblance to Count Dracula. Since the early 1990's the genre has expanded to include all manner of supernatural creatures: ghosts, faeries, weres and genies, to name just a few.

But there are authors who, like Cronin, have chosen to buck the "romantic vampire" trend by depicting a villain that is repulsive, predatory, and barely human, more closely resembling the vampire of folklore. Robert M. McCammon’s 1981 novel, They Thirst, and more recently, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain are just two other examples. Sometimes, as in The Passage, the vampires have been created by a human-made virus that gets loose, infecting or killing most humans, an idea that is usually credited to Richard Matheson for his 1954 novel, I Am Legend. These depictions return the vampire to its monstrous origins.

Top image: An illustration by David Henry Friston of a scene from Carmilla, first published in Dark Blue.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Cindy Anderson

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Passage. It originally ran in June 2010 and has been updated for the May 2011 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Cecilia
    by K-Ming Chang
    In the first few pages of K-Ming Chang's bizarre yet engrossing novella Cecilia, Seven, the ...
  • Book Jacket: Women and Children First
    Women and Children First
    by Alina Grabowski
    After Lucy Anderson falls to her death at a high school party, no one in Nashquitten, her gloomy, ...
  • Book Jacket: Henry Henry
    Henry Henry
    by Allen Bratton
    Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Win This Book
Win The Bluestockings

The Bluestockings by Susannah Gibson

An illuminating group portrait of the eighteenth-century women who dared to imagine an active life for themselves in both mind and spirit.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.