Freda Warrington is a British author best known for her epic fantasy, vampire and supernatural novels. Four of her novels have been nominated for the British Fantasy Society's Best Novel award. Her novel, Elfland, published by Tor, won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award in the Fantasy Novel category for 2009.
Carmilla (from Carmilla by J S LeFanu, 1871)
This novella is one of my favourites. It pre-dates Dracula, and helped inspire that more famous novel. Carmilla is a mysterious stranger who inveigles her way into a household in order to prey upon the unsuspecting heroine, Laura. She's not an obvious monster, but a sweet, beautiful, irresistible, very human character. Like Laura, we can't help but find her enchanting, even when her behaviour turns odd and sometimes too feverishly intense. I wanted to know more about Carmilla: to hear, in her own words, who she really is. Alas, this never happens. The story finishes too abruptly. As soon as she's revealed as a vampire, she has no chance to speak again. It's off with her head. On rereading Carmilla, I found something new and creepy: she appears human, vulnerable and lovable by imitating Laura. She's actually a kind of parasitic chameleon… horrible… yet still an enigmatic character with hidden depths we've barely glimpsed. Like Laura, we fancy we hear her light footstep outside the door…
Louis (from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, 1976)
Poor old Louis! We meet him in this first novel, pouring out his heart to a reporter. He gives us everything that Carmilla holds back – he's not a monster to be staked, but a real, feeling creature with his own story to tell. So tormented, deep-thinking and passionate, so attractive even though he's cut off from true love relationships by his vampire nature. And yet many readers seem to prefer Lestat! And so, apparently, does Ms Rice. Lestat's a fiery figure who is game for anything and doesn't give a damn. They say that Louis is too miserable, navel-gazing, self-pitying. I can see their point-of-view; Lestat is fun, and a bad-boy who does exactly what he wants is very appealing. But… Louis' tortured conscience and sadness still draws me.
Clarimonde (from Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier, 1836)
A novella about a priest who falls in love with a supernaturally beautiful woman – minutes before he takes his vows, forswearing all pleasures of the flesh. Clarimonde doesn't let that put her off, however. She visits Romauld's dreams, and spirits him away to an exhausting double life. Is he a priest dreaming he's Clarimonde's lover, or a young rake dreaming he's a priest? Clamironde herself reminds me of Carmilla: she's a very determined, passionate predator, and completely mysterious. That's where the comparison ends, though. She's an aristocrat who likes the high life. "Her hair, of a soft blonde hue, was parted in the midst and flowed back over her temples in two rivers of rippling gold; she seemed a diademed queen." There's "something of Cleopatra" about her. She's described as a courtesan who "died after an eight-day orgy." What a woman! Yet is she truly evil? She loves Romauld and requires only a few drops of blood. He admits he'd gladly give her all the blood in his body. When Romauld's senior reveals what she is, the older priest appears demonic as he stakes her, while Clarimonde remains an angel.
Prince Feroluce (from Bite-Me-Not or,Fleur de Fur) by Tanith Lee, 1984)
Feroluce is introduced as "the Prince of a proud and savage people." We meet him in this exquisite story by the queen of dark fantasy, Tanith Lee, who sadly died this May. A household barricades itself into a crumbling dark castle, besieged every night by flying vampires. These are unhuman, alien, vulture-like vampires who see mortals only as prey. They communicate by singing. All the same, when Feroluce is wounded and captured, scullery maid Rohise saves him, and they escape. However, he can't go back to his own people, because he has already sung his death song. These two beings are alone together, completely alien to each other, and yet they form a wordless relationship: a most unlikely, ultimately tragic, deeply touching love story. Without doubt, one of the most gorgeous and beautifully-realised vampire stories ever.
Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, 1997)
On the grounds that the enormously popular TV series spawned many books and graphic novels, I hope that Spike (played by James Marsters) can be given a free pass. Spike was my absolute favourite character (with Willow running a close second). The ultimate sexy bad-boy - but unloved? Surely not, you cry. However – just as he has legions of fans, he's also a controversial figure, attracting legions of haters who preferred his rival, Angel. In my view, Spike, bless him, was appallingly ill-used by the scriptwriters and the other characters alike. He was the comic relief, the punch-bag, the rent-a-villain who was even required to act out a loathsome, out-of-character attempted rape scene (a plot device that almost everyone – writers, actors, viewers – found regrettable). Whatever was required of him, Spike – and the actor who brought him to vivid life – threw himself into every scenario with total commitment, charm, energy… and did I mention hotness?
We'd like to thank Freda for stopping by and sharing this list with us! You can order her latest novel, A Taste of Blood and Wine, by clicking one of the links below!
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