Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Vampire Forensics by Mark Collins Jenkins

In VAMPIRE FORENSICS, author Mark Collins Jenkins and former chief historian of the National Geographic Society's archives, strips away the romanticism as if a moldy funeral shroud to reveal the facts behind the myth of the vampire.

"The vampire has climbed the sacred ladder.  Once the epitome of corruptible death, he has become a symbol of life, of life lived more intensely, more glamorously, and more wantonly..." — Mark Collins Jenkins

This volume covers the reasons behind the vampire, why people thought the dead would rise again to haunt and torment them.  From the original Slavic vampires to a surprising peek into Enlightenment France, the Highgate Vampire, the recent discovery of the 'Venice Vampire', clinical vampirism, and the bastardization of Dracula.  It also touches on witches, werewolves, zombies, and cannibals.

Rabies, porphyria, and pellagra were just a few of the diseases thought to bring on vampirism.  Jenkins covers many more including the plagues, cholera and tuberculosis.  I especially liked learning about 'the chewing dead' or the Nachzehrer.  Lots of information in this book not usually gathered in the common 'vampire compendiums' found in bookstores lately.  It is well-researched and brimming with wicked details about burial practices, resurrectionists, and methods of preserving (or not preserving) the dead.

If you're thinking the focus seems more on the history of death and burial, it all ties nicely to the vampire myth.  A must-read for those who are interested in vampires, or if you write about them.  Diehard romance fiction fans might want to pass, or risk having their fantasies spoiled.  Though the section on Polidori's The Vampyre reminds us that his vampire, modeled on Lord Byron, may have been the first 'sexy' vampire in fiction.

This book releases February 16th.  VAMPIRE FORENSICS: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend.


Elie said...

Great review. This sounds very interesting. I love hearing about different theories of Vampirism.

Derek Tatum said...

I've been looking forward to this one for awhile. I plan on picking it up soon.

Anonymous said...

Forensics + vampires? That is seems tailor made for me, as I am fascinated with both. Thanks for the info! : )

Anonymous said...

^Please ignore the is, it doesn't belong there. *sighs*

Author Mary C said...

Sounds like an intriguing book that I'll need to pick up.

Anthony Hogg said...

Hmmm, I might have to bump this one up in my to-get list thanks to your review, Michele! Grr!


If you love vampires and forensics, then you gotta get Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death (1988). Don't delay!