The best novels featuring female vampire protagonists

Nancy Baker Author Of The Night Inside
By Nancy Baker

The Books I Picked & Why

Sabella

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. 


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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.


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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. 


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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. 


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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?


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