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Humans Bite Harder Than Vampires April 21, 2010

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Book Reviews, Brain Power, Forensic Science, Human Body, Think About It.
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Tiko is wide-eyed with fright! What is scaring him? Could it be a vampire?

When National Geographic asked me to review their new book called Vampire Forensics, I had to ask myself if I had the guts to do it! As a self-proclaimed scaredy-cat, I wasn’t sure if learning about the origins of vampires would be something my timid self could take. Worse still was what happened when I attempted to grab Tiko for comfort. Once he heard me say “vampire,” he raced into the wardrobe and refused to emerge.

Like many people, I’m fascinated by popular vampire culture, from entertaining television shows to famous books such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The question that remains is – where did it all start and how did it become what it is today? And maybe the second question I had when I started reading Vampire Forensics was whether this book was a bite I could handle. Let’s find out!

Disease, Death And Burial

Researched and edited by Mark Jenkins, Vampire Forensics traces the history of vampire culture. Early on in the book, Jenkins writes about a mysterious, 16th century skull discovered in Venice that was thought to be the remains of a female vampire. The skull was buried with a brick jammed in its mouth, which people thought would stop the vampire from rising up to feed on others. In other areas of the book, diseases such as the plague or tuberculosis are linked to vampire myths, mostly due to signs of the disease such as paleness and the fact victims would waste away. Jenkins also goes on to merge ideas about burial and death with vampire culture.

While I expected a lot on forensics, this part of the book fell short. Instead, I read about all kinds of folklore that were scattered together without the structure a reader needs to make sense of it all. Where historical facts were relayed, these suggested a possible link to vampires, without the real forensic guts to strengthen the connection. It felt a bit like the writer was grasping at straws by choosing many random stories and trying to tie them in with vampire culture.

Poor Tiko is afraid of vampires. Perhaps if I read Vampire Forensics to him, he will learn they are not real. Now, I just have to figure out how to get him out of the wardrobe!

Still, there are heaps of fun tales and facts that kept the book interesting right to the end. I did shudder at some of the gory bits but in a sense, this is part of the appeal when it comes to vampires. People like to be afraid and they like the intrigue of the unknown.

Can You Handle It?

Who will like this book? Well, it’s not a book for my younger readers and even then, will probably only interest a select group of my teen readers. The graphic prose and macabre tales are gruesome at times. But for those who perhaps truly do fear vampires, this book brings that fear to a much less frightening reality. We learn how events that are most definitely of the human kind fueled the myths and fantasy that make up vampire culture today. While the book didn’t give much of a vampire bite, it left some strong human tooth marks. Ironically, I think readers may be left fearing humans far more than vampires.

Comments»

1. Mr.Science - April 30, 2010

Nice story, well i guess if the vampires aren’t real than how did the myth with the big teeth (fangs) become. I guess it’s just a way people thought of others that had highly long canine teeth. Vampires all together are very interesting , especially since all the myths on Vampires like: long fangs, sucks blood, can’t be seen in mirrior, kills only by stake in the heart, long capes ( Dragula), etc. Very interesting indeed.

2. Miss Weird Scientist - May 10, 2010

Totally interesting stuff, yes. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

And in case anyone was wondering, I did manage to retrieve Tiko from the wardrobe. The next book I’m reviewing is definitely not a scary one!


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