The best books about lovable monsters (both living and dead) dealing with existential dread

Who am I?

Along with a decidedly dark and quirky sense of humor, one of the things that connects Vamped with my other published novels is the way each takes its premise and builds an intricate world around it. I generally like to start with the world as it currently is, introduce an element of the fantastic, and then explore how that one tweak changes everything. In the case of Vamped, the fantastic element was having a group of vampires turn the vast majority of humanity into bloodsuckers by spiking blood donations, turning influencers, and getting “Pope Peter the Last” to add a little something special to the sacramental wine.  


I wrote...

Book cover of Vamped

What is my book about?

Marty Kowalski is a founding member of the Benevolent Vampire Society whose mission is to make humanity immortal by turning everyone into vampires. Unfortunately, Marty is also experiencing a midlife crisis – whatever that means for an immortal – and seriously considering ending it all when he discovers a little girl (Isuzu Trooper Cassidy) who has escaped from a human farm that sells organic blood to rich vampires as opposed to the lab-grown stuff everybody else gets. Initially intending to make her a late-night snack, Marty decides to raise her instead, only to suffer all the agonies of trying to bring up a child in a world eager to drain her of every last drop.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Vampire Lestat

David Sosnowski Why did I love this book?

I’m writing this on the morning of December 12, 2021, having just heard the news of Anne Rice’s exiting this mortal coil, and it’s safe to say I probably wouldn’t have written Vamped without first reading The Vampire Lestat. What I love about this book is how seriously it takes its subject, the way it luxuriates in the language of viscera and wonder, and the way it explores its motifs beyond easy observations like “vampires are sexy.” In particular, I love how it deals with the weight of immortality and the ability to bestow that gift-curse to others. And lastly, I love the spot-on details of period and place, from mid-1980s New Orleans to 18th-century France.  

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Vampire Lestat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestselling author - Surrender to fiction's greatest creature of the night - Book II of the Vampire Chronicles

The vampire hero of Anne Rice’s enthralling novel is a creature of the darkest and richest imagination. Once an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-revolutionary France, now a rock star in the demonic, shimmering 1980s, he rushes through the centuries in search of others like him, seeking answers to the mystery of his eternal, terrifying exsitence. His is a mesmerizing story—passionate, complex, and thrilling.

Praise for The Vampire Lestat
 
“Frightening, sensual . . . Anne Rice will…


Book cover of Bloodsucking Fiends

David Sosnowski Why did I love this book?

Bloodsucking Fiends begins in the mid-1990s (the present day as of its writing) and is set in AIDS-fighting, pre-tech-boom San Francisco – a time and place rendered with great affection and plenty of humor. It’s that latter quality – the humor – that I love about this book. Beginning with the beginning, we get Moore’s take on the classic tableau of a vampire rising as the sun sets. But instead of emerging from a coffin, our vamp pops out of a dumpster that’s being peed on by a homeless, benevolent lunatic known as the Emperor. If that setup just made you smile (fangs or no fangs) then Bloodsucking Fiends is for you. It is also why, when I decided to write a funny vampire novel, I turned to Mr. Moore’s novel for inspiration.  

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bloodsucking Fiends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley Dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching neck, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realises the decision has been made for her. Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that's where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway.

But all that changes when a beautiful, undead…


Book cover of Gulliver's Travels

David Sosnowski Why did I love this book?

In my own writing, I love leaning in to world building and satire and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver is a master class in both. For those whose knowledge of this classic is limited to kid-friendly animated abridgments set exclusively in Lilliput, let me tell you it is so much more, very little of it kid-friendly. Take, for instance, how Gulliver pisses off Lilliput’s queen while saving her from a burning tower – by peeing out the flames. And then there’s Swift's take on immortality (one of my favorite of Rice’s themes). Unlike her immortal fanged beauties, however, Swift’s immortals are not eternally youthful. Instead, aging’s insults and injuries accumulate until the forever-lived become so bent, brittle, and sedentary, they’re like rocks, albeit ones longing for death.

By Jonathan Swift,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Gulliver's Travels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

'Thus, gentle Reader, I have given thee a faithful History of my Travels for Sixteen Years, and above Seven Months; wherein I have not been so studious of Ornament as of Truth.'

In these words Gulliver represents himself as a reliable reporter of the fantastic adventures he has just set down; but how far can we rely on a narrator whose identity is elusive and whoses inventiveness is self-evident? Gulliver's Travels purports to be a travel book, and describes Gulliver's encounters with the inhabitants of four extraordinary places: Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the country of the Houyhnhnms. A consummately skilful…


Book cover of About a Boy

David Sosnowski Why did I love this book?

Vamped isn’t just about vampires; it’s also about the perils of parenting in a dangerous world with an unusual father-daughter relationship at its core. Subtract the fangs and make the girl a boy, and what you get is a little like Nick Hornby’s About a Boy. I first became familiar with Hornby’s story from the film adaptation starring Hugh Grant. So, when I found myself writing my own guide to questionable parenting, I decided to see how those characters were created in the original text. As a result, About a Boy became a constant source of inspiration throughout the writing of Vamped. And, being a non-parent myself (albeit one with plenty of nieces and nephews) inspiration re: the possibilities of unorthodox child-rearing was precisely what I needed. 

By Nick Hornby,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked About a Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MILLION COPY NO. 1 BESTSELLER THAT BECAMEAN ACCLAIMED FILM STARRING HUGH GRANT AND NICOLAS HOULT

'A very entertaining and endearing read' The Times
___________________

Thirty-six-year-old Londoner Will loves his life. Living carefree off the royalties of his dad's Christmas song, he's rich, unattached and has zero responsibilities - just the way he likes it.

But when Will meets Marcus, an awkward twelve-year-old who listens to Joni Mitchell and accidentally kills ducks with loaves of bread, an unlikely friendship starts to bloom.

Can this odd duo teach each another how to finally act their age?

Hugely funny and equally heartfelt,…


Book cover of Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein

David Sosnowski Why did I love this book?

Well, this is a bit of a two-fer. Along with world-building and satire, I also like stories of unintended consequences and human hubris and the story of Frankenstein’s monster is the touchstone for all subsequent works based on those themes. But why this edition, as opposed to others? Because of Wrightson’s powerful and masterful illustrations. This is not a graphic novel, per se; the story has not been converted into panels and dialog balloons. Instead, the text is punctuated by full-page, black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations of key scenes in the text. The drawings have a chiseled quality and often include a mind-boggling level of detail. When I imagine Shelley’s classic, Wrightson’s drawings are what I see, replacing even the iconic imagery of the Whale/Karloff incarnation.

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Bernie Wrightson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few works by comic-book artists have earned the universal acclaim and reverence that Bernie Wrightson's illustrated version of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein was met with upon its original release in 1983. Twenty-five years later, this magnificent pairing of art and literature is still considered to be one of the greatest achievements made by any artist in the field. Now, Wrightson and Dark Horse Books are collaborating on a beautiful new hardcover edition of the book, published in a larger 9' x 12' format intended to show off the exquisitely detailed line art of one of the greatest living artists in…


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Katie’s Gamble

By Kara O'Neal,

Book cover of Katie’s Gamble

Kara O'Neal Author Of The Princess's Knight

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Teacher Writer Hopeless romantic Optimistic human

Kara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Katie's Gamble is an unexpected, unique story about a young woman who's trying to support her younger siblings by keeping her family's confectionery shop open.

In order to do that, she has to take on her older brother, who's a notorious gambler in Louisiana. Additionally, she has to outsmart Rowdy Denton, her brother's hired gunslinger, who wants nothing more than to protect her and keep her from entering a dangerous gambling tournament.

Katie’s Gamble

By Kara O'Neal,

What is this book about?

Katie's Gamble is an unexpected, unique story about a young woman who's trying to support her younger siblings by keeping her family's confectionery shop open.

In order to do that, she has to take on her older brother, who's a notorious gambler in Louisiana. Additionally, she has to outsmart Rowdy Denton, her brother's hired gunslinger, who wants nothing more than to protect her and keep her from entering a dangerous gambling tournament.


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