INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and its sequel THE VAMPIRE LESTAT remain the two best vampire novels ever made, IMHO. I know the series continues on for a dozen books afterward but, I'll be honest, with the exception of MEMNOCH THE DEVIL I don't think any of them ever rises above "good" while the first two will always be great. Far be it me to criticize one of my all time favorite authors but at some point, Anne Rice forgot that being a vampire was ultimately tragic. Given the third book had them fighting a millennia old omnicidal Pharaoh, I think we can say that was when the series lost its way (but still had some cool bits).
Warning - The following book deals with religion and vampirism in a serious way. I know David Niall Wilson from previous collaborators but this review has been conducted with no bias.
Jesus gets a lot of vampire jokes made about him. I say this with dead seriousness. "JESUS THE VAMPIRE: Jesus gave his blood, now he wants it back - coming to a theater near you" is a T-shirt I've seen before. This is a in part because the 19th century vampire (and later Hammer Horror's depictions) is a creature which incorporates many elements designed to exist in blasphemous opposition to God. They rise three days after death, they are repulsed by the cross, they drink and share blood to provide immortality, and so on. The vampire is the ultimate enemy of Christ beyond sin itself because it is living death versus eternal life.
SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK by Nancy A. Collins is the first of the Sonja Blue novels that I have been recommended multiple times but haven't gotten around to reading until now. I actually know Nancy Collins, first, from her Vampirella comics that were quite entertaining and sadly cut short. I also knew her to be an author who had briefly put her characters in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe but I had never read her signature Sonja Blue series.
VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE remains the most influential of all tabletop roleplaying games in my life and is pretty much under DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS for influence on the world as a whole. The Blade Trilogy, Underworld, True Blood, Dark, Vampyr, and a huge number of other works were all influenced by it. Recently, Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition came out and electrified the fanbase. However, 5E didn't cover what a lot of people most remember about the game: the metaplot.
The HARRY STUBBS series is probably the best H.P. Lovecraft fiction which is currently on the market today with the possible exception of the ANDREW DORAN series by Matthew Davenport or my own CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON (I may be biased). This is because it dials down the squid and the splatterpunk horror elements so many authors dial up to return to the occult mystery element that Lovecraft's best works were famous for.
SHATTERED HOPES by Ulff Lehmann is the sequel to SHATTERED DREAMS. The premise of SHATTERED DREAMS was an epic war being fought between an invading army and multiple players between it as well as the return of old magic the world. I liked the various characters within it as well as the twists and turns in the subplots. Characters found out their allies were enemies, their memories were untrustworthy, and what they thought was going on was nowhere near the truth.
FIERCE, the second book of the BRUTAL TRILOGY, is an unapologetic homage of Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard with many homages not only to the original stories but also the L. Sprague De Camp pastiches. There are many original twists and turns with the Sellword turned king, Gathelaus, having some differences with Cimmeria's most famous son. It is a great sword and sorcery from beginning to end.
VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE 5TH EDITION is a book I never expected to see. I was a huge fan of Vampire: The Masquerade in the nineties. I was about as big a Gothic Punk as a tabletop roleplaying gamer could be in the South with no Goths around him, no black clothing in his wardrobe, and a restrictive Catholic high school. I loved pretending to be 8th generation Elder Lord Sirrius of the Ventrue and Erasmus Von Prague the Tremere Knight. It was a game inspired by INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, LOST BOYS, and BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA. I traveled from the seedy streets of Chicago to Prague during the Dark Ages to the end of the world before the line ended in 2004.
KINGS OF PARADISE by Richard Nell is one of the favorites to win the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (#SPFBO). It is a story which has been recommended to me over and over again. I was surprised by this because the fantasy fans I hang around with are a very cynical bunch. If one liked THE POPPY WARS, then the next disliked it. I was a huge fan of 1000 SCARS but others were iffy about it. Here? Just about everyone who read this novel had nothing but praise for it. They said it was the best grimdark they'd read since THE GREY BASTARDS or WHERE LOYALTIES LIE. So, i decided to check it out.
I've mentioned how much of a huge fan I am of Richard A. Knaak. He's the guy who made minotaurs a viable alternative to orcs in Dungeons and Dragons, made some of the most entertaining World of Warcraft fiction, and has written some really great independent fiction as well. It was the latter I was most interested in as while I was always a fan of him playing in other worlds, I wanted to see what he could do in his own universe. He decided to do that by combining two genres that often intersect but rarely so directly in a noir urban fantasy novel.