The best novels featuring female vampire protagonists

Nancy Baker Author Of The Night Inside
By Nancy Baker

Who am I?

I’ve loved books about vampires ever since reading Dracula at much too young an age, but I was always looking for stories in which the women were more than virtuous heroines, objects of desire, or hissing brides. Or wearing negligees. I was also drawn to tales that explored the practical and ethical challenges of being a vampire. Fortunately, the vampire fiction boom beginning in 1980 opened the way for new stories, many by women, that depicted the nuances of vampirism through a female gaze. Travel from 6th century Byzantium to Mexico City to futuristic Mars with these novels that put new spins on the old conventions and introduce some fascinating female vampires.

I wrote...

The Night Inside

By Nancy Baker,

Book cover of The Night Inside

What is my book about?

Dependable grad student Ardeth Alexander finds herself trapped in a nightmare as the unwilling blood source for a captive vampire, the centuries-old Rozokov. When she discovers that her fellow prisoner is not the worst monster she faces, she realizes that the only way to survive is to make an irrevocable choice.

On the streets of Toronto, Ardeth struggles to figure out how to survive her new life and Rozokov faces a world that has changed utterly from what he knew. But the powers that trapped them both have not gone away – and still have plans for them.

The books I picked & why

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By Tanith Lee,

Book cover of Sabella

Why this book?

British writer Tanith Lee has been one of the most important influences on my writing and this book is classic Lee. Set on Nova Mars, it is the story of Sabella - difficult, damaged, and deadly -  and Jace, who has come to avenge his brother’s death at her hands. Their conflict leads them to an unexpected truth.  Lee’s language is brilliant and baroque, her characters are sinister and sexy, and the novel plays with both gothic and science fiction tropes. And Sabella has a wonderful wardrobe, which is always a plus for me. 

A Flame in Byzantium

By Chelsea Quinn Yarbro,

Book cover of A Flame in Byzantium

Why this book?

Yarbro’s tales of the vampire Saint-Germain is one of the most influential and long-running series in horror. This secondary series focuses on Roman matron Atta Olivia Clemons, Saint-Germain’s lover from the age of Nero. In this first installment, she struggles to survive the much different world of 6th Century Constantinople. Full of rich historical detail, it shows that being a vampire is no protection in a world in which women have no rights, rules are rigidly enforced, and spies are everywhere.  If you like history and vampires, you can’t go wrong with Yarbro’s books.

The Gilda Stories

By Jewelle Gomez,

Book cover of The Gilda Stories

Why this book?

Gilda begins her life as a runaway slave in pre-Civil War Louisiana and this beautifully-written novel explores her life over the next two hundred years as she faces danger, love, and loss. It’s memorable not only for the lens of Black and LGBTQ history that it brings to the vampire myth, but for the main character’s commitment to maintaining her connection to community, both vampire and mortal, and her openness to the world that transforms around her. 

Certain Dark Things

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Book cover of Certain Dark Things

Why this book?

Atl, the “wild child” daughter of a matriarch in a vampire clan that was old when the Aztecs ruled Mexico, is on the run from the slaughter of her family. She risks hiding out in Mexico City, off-limits to her kind, setting off a clash between warring vampire narco gangs, the beleaguered police, and the mortal crime families.  Atl needs to grow up and figure out how to survive before any or all of the above find her.  Forget everything you think you know about vampires. Moreno-Garcia throws all the pieces into the air and creates a new world of modern vampire noir. 

Parasite Life

By Victoria Dalpe,

Book cover of Parasite Life

Why this book?

Jane has grown up as the town outcast, caring for a dying mother who has never shown her any affection. She’s counting the days until she can leave when she meets new girl Sabrina, who pushes her to investigate the mysteries of her mother’s past, including the identity of her unknown father. What Jane discovers upends everything she thought she knew about her life and herself. Sensual, moving, and sometimes grim, I love this book for the way it explores tough questions. What would you do for love? What would you do for need? Who would you betray to survive?

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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