Now, here’s the interesting thing about vampires:
They’ve been around forever.
Seriously, long before Bram Stoker first put pen to paper, there were legends about vampires. Of course, they weren’t always called vampires. In the Middle East, there was talk of the Afrit, which was the soul of a murdered person who would return to the spot of its death and drink the blood of anyone unlucky enough to cross it. In Macedonia, it was said that certain people who had lived wicked lives and never eaten pork would return to life as a blood-drinking wild boar. In Iceland, it was the Alfemoe who sucked blood while the ancient Greeks could tell you all about Empusa, who drank blood to maintain a youthful appearance.
Of course, we all know that vampires don’t exist, or at least they don’t exist as supernatural creatures. Still, it is somewhat amazing that all of these different societies and cultures developed essentially the same myth at roughly the same time, despite not having much contact with each other. There is just something universal about both the threat and the allure of the vampire.
With all of the different legends out there, it can be difficult to keep your mythological vampires straight. Fortunately, the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology is here to help! Written by a vampirologist (albeit one who goes out of her way to make sure that we understand that she personally doesn’t believe in them), this encyclopedia has entries for all of the various mythological vampires and their legends. With the exception of Dracula, this encyclopedia doesn’t include any of the “fictional” vampires from television or film. If you’re looking for an entry on Angel or Edward Cullen, this is not the place to look. But what the book does have is entries on the legendary beings who came before the celebrity vampires of today. It makes for interesting reading and it also serves as a reminder that there’s more to the vampire legend than what we’ve seen in the movies or read in novels.
For both authors and readers of vampire fiction, the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology is a valuable resource.