The Lure of Vampires
By Kristen Painter
Much has been written about vampires and their enduring appeal, so I don’t think anyone’s questioning that. In fact, as a culture, we’re no different in our love of the creatures than those before us. Whether it be Stoker’s dark count, Rice’s rock stars or Harris’s Southern fried fangers, vampires in literature have survived – and thrived – through the ages as befitting their immortal status.
But why are female readers so drawn to them? I have my own theories about these undead bad boys. I think much of the vampire hero’s allure lies in his excusable darkness. A bad boy without a great reason to be bad is just a jerk. A vampire, on the other hand, has a built-in reason to be dark, moody and dangerous. Depending on what series you’re reading, he might have been born bad, cursed into being bad, turned bad by a bite or infected with badness via some kind of parasite/host.
Either way, it’s not his fault. And that makes him easier to love.
His brokenness also provides a degree of fascination. Women love a challenge and the challenge of fixing a wounded hero is one many heroines have accepted. Of course, fixing a broken man is much easier accomplished in fiction than in real life, but perhaps that’s part of the appeal too? Fiction is an escape for many and doing the (often) impossible can be a real thrill. What woman can’t understand the draw of taming a man no other woman has? Of being the one woman who can soothe the tortured hero? Beauty and the Beast, anyone? This fantasy is an old and dear one.
Lastly, there is the appeal of a vampire’s worldliness. Their age gives them an edge no mortal man could ever have. Not only do they understand how the world works, but they understand it in a way that allows them to manipulate it for their own benefit. And unlike the average mortal man, they often understand women. How to talk to them, how to romance them, how to appreciate them. That quality alone is probably enough for most female readers, but combine that with a vampire’s other attributes and it’s no wonder they’ve headlined in some of our favorite books, tv shows and movies as the years have gone by.
No matter how you feel about the creatures, vampires are here to stay. What is it about vampires that makes you keep reading?