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Every year, I put together a playlist of Halloween music – not necessarily novelty ‘Halloween’ songs, like The Monster Mash (though you will find that on here) – but just all-around creepy, eerie, or particularly Halloween-y songs that fit the mood well. I’m quite proud of my bizarre little collection, so please check out at least some of these. All can be found on YouTube!

HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST 2014

1. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell feat. Michael Jackson

2. Come Alive (War of the Roses) – Janelle Monae

3. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics ~ one of my all-time favorites

4. The Wolf – Fever Ray

5. If I Had a Heart – Fever Ray

6. Seven Devils – Florence + the Machine

7. Howl – Florence + the Machine

8. The Monster Mash – Selebrities ~ this is my favorite version, introduced to me by a dear, fabulous friend, though the original is certainly a lot of fun

9. Holes in Your Coffin – Phildel

10. The Wolf – Phildel

11. Hunter – Bjork

12. Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You – Gotye

13. Nightmusic – Grimes feat. Majical Cloudz

14. Oh Marcello – Regina Spektor

15. Only Lovers Left Alive, Music from the Motion Picture – SQURL and Yasmine ~ fantastic movie soundtrack

16. Hudson – Vampire Weekend

17. Death Death, Devil Devil, Evil Evil, Songs – Voltaire ~ so funny and fun to listen to if you have a kind of twisted sense of humor

18. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme – Nerf Herder

19.  Resonance (Soul Eater Opening 1) – T.M. Revolution

20. Friends on the Other Side – The Princess and the Frog Motion Picture Soundtrack

Maybe I should just call this Vampire Book Reviews – that’s all I’ve reviewed thus far. Then again, this is only my second review. Then again again, we’re in the most wonderful time of year: October. Otherwise known as HALLOWEEN MONTH!!!! I’m one of those weirdos who starts prepping for Halloween in September, and this year I want to do something special. Every week this month I’ll be posting about one of the classic horror movies – generally those of the Universal Monsters – as well as whatever vampire novel I decide to read next. Those movie reviews will be starting with the 1931 Frankenstien and possibly 1935’s Bride of Frankenstien as well (because the DVD I rented came with Frankenstien as well as all the sequels. So stay tuned for those reviews!

*Spoiler Free*

I’ve been a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series – otherwise known as the book series the HBO show Game of Thrones is based on – since I was in ninth grade, so for four years. I got into the books directly before the show came out, actually, so I was reading through A Clash of Kings when season one premiered. Of course I was ecstatic; suddenly everyone (and I do mean every0ne) knew what I was talking about when I lamented my favorite characters dying, or praised the political intricacy of Westeros.

So when I found out that George had written a vampire novel in 1982, well…you can see why I had to check that out, can’t you?

I wasn’t disappointed. Ol’ George wrote twists of Red Wedding proportions into this little book – which should have been a quick read, as it clocks in at only 354 pages. I say “should” because it took me almost three weeks to read it. I’m a fast reader; it took me a day to read Brandon Sanderson’s book Mistborn: The Final Empire, which is about one thousand pages. That was on a free day, though, and now that I’m in school for six hours a day, plus work, plus homework, plus watching through Buffy the Vampire Slayer…a nerd’s life is a busy one, so not only have I not read it every day since I got it, but I also didn’t read that much on the days I did. That wasn’t completely the reason it took so long to read, though. I’ve found that George’s writing can drag, even in ASoIaF, especially in the first book. A Game of Thrones took me a while to get though, because while there is a lot of the heart-pounding, oh-my-God-I-must-turn-the-next-page-or-die action in ASoIaF, there’s also a lot of padding. The show really cuts down the blubber that permeated book one, and the middle of Fevre Dream held a bit of this for me.

However.

Fevre Dream is both (a) much shorter than any of the ASoIaF books, and (b) much more concise. The mid-book blubber isn’t actually that much, just enough to slow down the process of reading – but trust me, the book as a whole is totally worth some dragging. There are twists and turns, terror and vampires and slavery allegories. Oh yeah, this book takes place on the Mississippi in 1857, the vampirism is used as an allegory for slavery, but I love how much George doesn’t shove this down the reader’s throat. With some vampire allegories (*cough* True Blood *cough cough*), the writer(s)  will keep piling on the similarities while the reader/watcher just says, “Okay, guys. We get it. We get it.” With Fevre Dream, this is not the case. A character mentions the similarities between the relationships of vampire to human and master to slave once, but then it’s up to the main characters to decide how to deal with that. What are the moral implications? How do they justify their actions ‘against’ vampires if they so easily justify those against slaves in the South? This leads to some slow changing of opinions on slavery by one of the main characters, and it’s really well done. You can’t quite tell when he swings from pro-slavery to abolitionist, because it’s such a natural progression. And speaking of the characters…

These ones are fantastic. I’d expect nothing less from George than well-developed and complex entities, and these ones are ASoIaF-level complex. My favorite is a tie between the two main characters, and one minor side character. Who are they? Well, cap’n Abner Marsh is basically present-day George R.R. Martin (whenever I see him I just want to slap a captain’s uniform on him and plunk him on a fishing boat), a man who, due to a stroke of extraordinarily bad luck, has lost almost all of his steamboat company’s boats. The only one he has left is his oldest and very worst, until he is approached by the very wealthy Joshua York, who offers Marsh the boat of his dreams if he agrees to be his business partner. York turns out to be a vampire – no spoilers here, it tells you right on the inside jacket of the book – who is trying to cure his people of the “red thirst”. The vampires in this book are both very similar and very dissimilar to ‘classic’ vampire mythology.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in this post-Twilight, overly-humanized, ignoring-most-vampire-mythology age, but when authors play around with the idea of the vampire and don’t necessarily conform to the original ‘demons possessing human corpses’ definition doesn’t really bother me. And classics in vampire literature even do this. It’s a given that sunlight burns vampires, right? Well, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Count is barely bothered by sunlight at all. He wanders about during the day, apparently unharmed, though he is weaker and doesn’t have his shape-shifting abilities. All I’m saying is, not all conventions need to be adhered to in order to call a monster a ‘vampire’. It can be fun when authors mess around with the idea, and the way George does it, tying in werewolf mythology as well, makes complete sense in the context of the world. Keep in mind too that George wrote this in 1982, which was not a time when changing around vampire mythologies was very common.

(Sidenote: I have to admit that it is also refreshing to see vampires done traditionally once in a while, though – Buffy is a show that does it right, and if you haven’t seen it yet…what are you doing? Go watch it. Now.)

So, great characters, great story, fantastic setting and allegories – aside from some slow parts in the middle, Fevre Dream is an utterly gripping novel of suspense and adventure. Pick it up if you haven’t already, and be ready to embark down a river of nightmares.

*SPOILER FREE*

 

Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the vampiric arts (?), I surprised myself by how long it took me to get around to reading this classic of Gothic literature. Not only is Dracula arguably the most influential book in the Gothic horror genre, but it has also spawned uncountable adaptations, including the (arguably) two most influential movies of the horror genre – 1922’s Nosferatu (Dracula under a different name due to copyright issues) and 1931’s Dracula (starring Bela Lugosi). Seeing as how this book is not only so influential, essentially defines the modern vampire, but also sports the most famous vampire in history, well…could I really call myself a connoisseur without reading it?

This summer, I finally did.

Before reading this classic, I sort of dreaded it – I sometimes feel obligated to read classics, not because I actually enjoy doing it, but because it’s a classic for a reason, and influenced the genre or entire medium tremendously (something like: The Birth of a Nation). Thank the Lord on high that good ol’ Dracula is not a ‘classic’ in that sense.

Though the writing is technically archaic, it never feels that way – this book could have been written in 1982 and I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. So not only is this book relatively easy to digest for the modern reader, but it surprised me as well in its format. The entire book is made up of the diary entries of our main characters, mostly Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Lucy, Van Helsing, and (more towards the end) Mina. Some newspaper ‘clippings’ also supplement the diary writings. Thanks to this format, Dracula remains entertaining and incredibly fun to read even for those familiar with its characters and plot from some of the movie adaptations.

Despite how fun it is, though, this staple of vampire literature definitely suffers from being a thorough product of its time, at least for me. The entire time I was reading, I kept getting slapped in the face by its blatant misogyny (thanks for pointing out how stupid and fragile women are, Van Helsing). Now, I don’t think Bram Stoker hated women – I don’t get that vibe from Dracula, that sort of Naruto misogyny that permeates all of the female characters, because, surprisingly (for me), Stoker’s female characters are by far the most compelling. As I stated before, it’s simply a product of its time.

But I digress. On with the review!

So, as I was saying, one of female characters is actually well-written and compelling, more so than most of the male characters. I expected the women to be bland and do nothing (as is typical in a lot of mainstream modern media, unfortunately), and while Lucy is pretty dumb, Mina is a badass. I don’t care what anyone says, I LOVE MINA. She helps the men gather information, she figures out stuff much more quickly than the others in their little vampire-hunting league, and she has strong emotions that are reigned in when she needs to get s*** done. Arguably, Mina’s the most interesting character in the book, especially towards the end.

One more quick anecdote: can I just say how lovely it is to read about men who are presented as very dominant and masculine, but they still faint or cry at regular intervals in the book? Odd that I’d have to go back to the 1890’s to get a refreshing (mainstream) presentation of men’s emotional needs – you know, like the fact that everyone has them and we shouldn’t repress emotions for the sake of being ‘a man’ or ‘not a wimp’? Thanks, mainstream 1890’s.

Overall, pick up Dracula if you have not read it yet. It’s a creepy tale worthy of all the praise it receives, and its position as a literary classic.

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