At this point in 2020, I’m not sure if Nandor, Nadja, and Lazlo taking over Staten Island would help with everything that’s going on in the world right now… but I’m not not sure it would help. At the very least, I know that watching Taika Waititi’s quirky vampire mockumentary has been bringing some much-needed laughter into my life the past few months. And let’s be honest, we could all use some more of that right now. Trust Taika to deliver.
The show has been renewed for a third season, but with an unknown release date (fingers crossed for 2021) we’ll all just have to bide our time until we can see our favorite awkward vamps (and one burgeoning vampire hunter) on our TVs again. Sure, you can always rewatch the first two seasons (I’m already on two watches and counting—no judgements), but in the meantime, why not expand your knowledge of vampire lore? We’re not talking well-worn blockbusters like Twilight or Interview with a Vampire—these seven vampire books feature their own unique mythology and their own often hilarious takes on vampire lore. Not everyone can deliver Waititi-level wit and mayhem, but some of these books come pretty close! So why not fill your days with vampire novels while you wait for What We Do in the Shadows to return? You know you want to…
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
If you’re like the rest of the reading world—by which I mean currently falling head over heels for Mexican Gothic right now—you’ll be pleased to know Silvia Moreno-Garcia has also gifted us with a Nahuatl-inspired vampire mythos. While this book takes its vampire mythology a bit more seriously than What We Do in the Shadows, its in-depth exploration of the vampire-companion relationship would make Guillermo proud. Instead of familiars that are eventually turned, the vampire subspecies in Certain Dark Things take tlapalēhuiāni or “Renfields” with whom they share a deep and sacred bond. Yes tlapalēhuiāni—like the teen runaway taken in by vampire Atl while she’s on the run—have no hope of becoming vampires, but they play an integral role in keeping their vampires safe and happy in a Mexico City where human gangs burn vampires to prevent them from gaining a foothold in society. And that requires some serious gumption. Maybe Guillermo wouldn’t hate it so much after all.
Editor’s Note: Tor Nightfire will be republishing Certain Dark Things in paperback in May 2021. More information here.
Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
Its wry sense of humor is, without a doubt, one of the things that makes What We Do In The Shadows so great. And poking fun at classic vampire mythos and generally all things serious is one of the things Carpe Jugulum does best. Part of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, this book explores the garlic-loving, sun-bathing, wine-drinking vampires who plan to take over the castle… if a nervous priest and the local witches can’t stop them. Don’t worry, it’s a-okay to read these books completely out of order. (Good thing, too, since Carpe Jugulum is number twenty-three in the Discworld series.) Fans of the argumentative coven in the show’s Season 2 episode “Witches” will definitely find a lot to like in this novel…
The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig
August Pfeiffer’s hometown is about as likely to have vampires as Staten Island—which, unfortunately, is to say very likely. It doesn’t help that he lives on a magical nexus where teens have to worry about getting jumped by a bloodsucker if they stay out past curfew. So when an annoyingly hot vampire shows up to warn Auggie that he’s part of some ancient prophecy at the heart of warring vampire cults, he’s sure it’s a trap. Yeah, nice try…
Only, he’s developing some pretty freaky powers that defy explanation. And his vampire-slaying math tutor knows more about it than she’s admitting. Plus, he’s seeing visions of making a blood pack with two cute boys. It’s the human(ish) side of the immortal vampire / mortal relationship à la Nadja and Jeff …Jesk? …Jesh?…oh, you know who I mean!
Vampires Never Get Old, Edited by Natalie C. Parker and Zoraida Córdova
Like a nightly episode of TV, you can devour this vampire anthology one blood-sucking story at a time. There are no boring stories in these pages filled with ancient vampire families, resurrection men dispatching of the undead before they can rise again, and born-again vampires getting revenge on their abelist, would-be murdering families. You might even get some familiar Van Helsing-esque stake-wielding vibes from stories by Julie Murphy and V.E. Schwab. Like What We Do in the Shadows, these vamps and slayers prove that vampires—and our love for them—really never do get old.
Fangs by Sarah Andersen
Despite what the “Werewolf Feud” episode of What We Do in the Shadows might lead you to believe, werewolves and vamps can sometimes get along—and even find romance. This slice-of-life comic reveals what life is like for a centuries-old vampire and a hirsute werewolf trying to make their relationship work. Filled with full moon jokes and one-liners about murder (the leading lady is a bloodthirsty vampire, after all), this one is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
Ina, the immortal species in Octavia Butler’s sci-fi vampire novel, drink blood but don’t kill humans. Instead, they take them as symbionts—a sort of mutually beneficial relationship that allows the vampires to drink and the humans to become semi-immortal. (Though Guillermo would probably be pretty upset to learn a bite isn’t enough to change you into a vampire in this world.)
Fledgling explores an incredibly interesting vampire / human dynamic unlike any other. The story follows Shori, a young amnesiac vampire trying to regain her memories and discover who was behind the loss of them in the first place. Darker and nowhere near as lighthearted as What We Do in the Shadows, but if you’re looking for incredible vampire mythology—what else would you expect from SFF legend Octavia Butler?—this is the book for you.
If Colin Robinson ever writes an autobiography, this would be it. Fred may not be an energy vampire, but his life after undeath is pretty much the same old boring existence he lived as a human… right up until things start to get weird at his high school reunion. Suddenly he’s dating an old friend who works for a supernatural oversight agency and all sorts of supernatural shenanigans ensue. His life may be getting a lot more exciting, but Fred’s still the same straight-laced guy who’d rather run from a fight than finish it.
Rachel is an incurable SFF fanatic who screams her love of books into the internet void on Book Riot. Her fiction can be found in Andromeda Spaceways, Luna Station Quarterly, and other places, including her website.