Vampirology: The Science of Horror’s Most Famous Fiend

Vampirology: The Science of Horror’s Most Famous Fiend

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Our fascination with the vampire myth has scarcely diminished since Bram Stoker’s publication of the classic Dracula tale in 1897, but how much of that lore is based on fact and can science explain the origins of horror’s most famous fiend? Vampirology charts the murky waters of the vampire myth – from stories found in many cultures across the globe to our sympathetic pop-culture renditions today – to investigate how a scientific interpretation may shed light on the fears and the phenomenon of the vampire myth.

“I simply couldn’t get enough of Kathryn Harkup’s fascinating, sparkling and erudite account of the history of the vampire. Using actual accounts she demonstrates how the vampire myth spread like a contagion – gossip and rumour mixed with a very modern taste for sensation. How every country and region has its own particularly variety of the blood-sucker, from the upior and the vrykolas to the Romanian Striogi. And how this area of the world became a melting pot for the superstitions that would give birth to Dracula. She takes us through the endlessly shifting criteria – the Rules of the Beast, as it were – which govern the existence of the vampire: shape-shifting, sunlight and the primary importance of blood itself. She also examines in detail the physical processes of decay and how their misinterpretation could lead the credulous to believe their dear-departed were not so departed after all…

As compulsively readable as a bloated undead feasting on a fresh corpse, this is an absolute must for all children of the night out there. 

The blood is the life!” 

Mark Gatiss, co-creator and writer of Dracula

‘Kathryn Harkup has examined a fascinating corner of popular (or should I say ancient?) culture then applied sound scientific principles and knowledge to create a bloody good read!’

Professor Mark Lorch, chemist, writer and science communicator, University of Hull


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