cover image The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero

The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero

Susannah Clements, Brazos, $14.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-58743-289-7

It's indisputable that vampires are au courant in America, but according to Clements, an associate professor at Regent University, they ain't what they used to be. In this astute survey, she argues that Christian theology, once essential to understanding the vampire, has been lost through decades of change in vampire characterization, effectively de-fanging the vampire of meaningful theological bite. Clements begins with the iconic monster Dracula, a repulsive creature who represented the power of sin and evil in the Christian metanarrative. Moving through such subsequent incarnations as the vampires of Anne Rice, Joss Whedon (in Buffy and Angel), and Charlaine Harris (the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries on which True Blood is based), Clements chronicles a gradual secularization and social acceptance of vampires. By the time Stephenie Meyer stops hearts with Edward Cullen, the vampire is no longer a grotesque cautionary tale of humanity gone wrong but the apotheosis of humanity, a beautiful angel who stands above humankind. Clements writes well and persuasively as she argues that "vampires are more than just monsters to us," demonstrating that now, as ever, the vampire represents our darkest anxieties and most ardent desires. (Mar.)