Sunday 2 October 2011

From Demons To Dracula by Matthew Beresford

Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I have a weakness for  vampires.  And not the paranormal romance variety - the proper, old-fashioned, murderous, bloodsucking variety.  Two of my favourite books are Dracula and The Historian.  So I was excited to find this non-fiction history of the creation of the modern vampire myth at my library.

Happily, I wasn't disappointed with it.  From Demons to Dracula is a chronological history of the vampire through time, touching on ancient beliefs, middle age myths, Transylvania and peasant superstition, Vlad Tepes and the vampire in modern media.  As with any history like this, some chapters were more interesting than others.  I most enjoyed reading about the 'historical' Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) and the Romanian superstitions.  It was fascinating to see how the old myths had become twisted over time into the vampire that we all think of now - in Romanian folklore, vampires don't drink blood and they are born, not made.  Reading about classic vampire literature made me want to go out and immediately read Carmilla and The Vampyre.

Although the subject matter was excellent, the writing was a bit hit and miss throughout the course of the book.  In the beginning few chapters, I felt as though I was reading Beresford's PhD dissertation rather than a published book, but luckily the writing began to feel more natural towards the half way point of the book.  I found some of the conclusions Beresford was making a bit far-fetched; the vampire myth being related to suckling being a good example of this, but there is no denying that he had completed a great deal of research and presented lots of interesting information well.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in vampires, myths or folklore, purely for the information inside of it.  There is also an excellent biography included, from which I have added quite a few books to my wishlist.

Verdict: Fascinating history of vampires.
Source: Library
Published: 2008
Score: 4 out of 5


  1. Ooh, now this sounds perfect for me. Dracula and The Historian are two of my favorites as well! I've read The Historian twice and am now listening to the audio version (31 hours!) and am loving that as well. I just read and enjoyed Vlad: The Last Confession, which you might like if you haven't read it. I will definitely track From Demons to Dracula down!

  2. I don't usually like non-fiction but vampires have always fascinated me and this looks like a great background reading to dip in and out of for me. :-)

  3. I need to get my hands on this book. Thanks for the review! Speaking of terrifying vampires, if you haven't read it, you should definitely try The Strain Trilogy! The last book is coming out this month so I'm very excited.

    P.S. Loved The Historian!

  4. Natalie, I remember your review of Vlad: The Last Confession and it's been on my wishlist ever since - Christmas just needs to get here sooner! I too have read The Historian twice and I'm itching for a third read.

    Mel, you could definitely pick and choose the chapters that interest you the most.

    Bookishhobbit - Hope you enjoy the book. And I've just looked up the Strain books - how have I not heard of them before? :O

  5. "The Vampyre" and Carmilla are both really good reads-I hope you enjoy them.

  6. I felt that THE HISTORIAN was written in the same vein. Of course, it's fiction, but the way it read was quite interesting. Some felt it was much too long. I thought it was genius!

  7. Mel, I will hopefully get to both of them soon. I have a copy of The Vampyre, but hadn't even heard of Carmilla.

    Elsie, I'm one of The Historian's biggest fans. I liked the slow pace and the history of it :)

  8. If you're going to dig into Carmilla and The Vampyre, I would also suggest Coleridge's "Christbel." (Just discovered your blog - lovely!).