Otto Penzler's anthology THE VAMPIRE ARCHIVES (2009), 917 pages excluding the 110-page fiction bibliography, labels itself "The Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published." Well, not quite, although it may be the largest and merits a place in every devoted vampire fan's library. Of the usual suspects, Polidori's "The Vampyre" is missing, so as an introduction to the genre, this volume falls short of completeness in that respect alone. On the other hand, "The Vampyre" has been reprinted so frequently readers would have no trouble finding it elsewhere. On the third hand, however, the same point would apply to other items such as "Carmilla," "The Horla," and "Dracula's Guest," which are included. So I'd call THE VAMPIRE ARCHIVES an extensive compilation of vampire stories (plus three poems) classic, vintage, and modern including familiar works and quite a few not so readily available. The bibliography alone justifies this volume's existence. Furthermore, it boasts a foreword by Kim Newman and a preface by Neil Gaiman, in addition to the editor's own three-page introduction.
The contents are divided into named sections that, aside from the first category, "Pre-Dracula," sometimes seem rather arbitrary. For instance, why aren't Algernon Blackwood's "The Transfer" and Fritz Lieber's "Girl with the Hungry Eyes" under "Psychic Vampires" instead of "Classic Tales" and "Is That a Vampire?" respectively? Among the three pieces under "True Stories," Stenbock's "Sad Story of a Vampire" doesn't even claim to be a report of an alleged real incident; it's simply fiction. Other categories: "Graveyards, Castles, and Ruins"; "That's Poetic"; "Hard Times for Vampires"; "Something Feels Funny"; "Love. . . Forever"; "They Gather"; "This Is War"; "Modern Masters." Speculation about the editor's classification rationale, though, doesn't detract from enjoyment of these works. Additional distinguished authors in the volume (classic, vintage, and modern) include Stephen King, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Manly Wade Wellman, H. P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tanith Lee, Anne Rice, Harlan Ellison, Brian Lumley, and many others. An introductory note about the author precedes each story. The trade paperback on Amazon costs $25.00, but considering the size and scope of the anthology, that's not unreasonable. Recommended.
Margaret L. Carter
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