This book was OK. But no more than that.
If you want a well-written, coherent account of the origins of the vampire myth – or even a discussion of the various walking-corpsey-type myths available – then look elsewhere. You won’t find it here.
This book reads more like a blog-published-as-book – an accumulation of short pieces written on similar topics, and then published as a book. It’s interesting to read, but if it had been more organised, it would have been a better book. Not only does it jump about in time, but also in geography and in myth-type. The author (or editor, or someone) would have been better to pick a method of classification and then stick with it.
The book also gives quite a lot of direct quotes from other sources, which is not in itself bad, but it then fails to follow up by discussing them properly, or comparing them to other similar quotes. Also, many of these quotes don’t seem to serve any purpose related to the stated topic of the book (i.e., the origin of the vampire legend) but appear to have been included only to titillate. Which leads back to the impression of blog-as-book; the whole book seems disjointed, as if the author just wrote it as a kind of macabre stream-of-consciousness, rather than as a credible work of non-fiction.
Content-wise, it’s interesting, but because Jenkins has tried to cover an awful lot of ground – geographically, temporally and mythically – in relatively few pages, he doesn’t go into anything in any depth. It’s like a coffee-table book, except if you put this on your coffee-table probably nobody would visit you ever again. This is the kind of book where you put it down and say to yourself “Now, where can I find a real book on the origin of the vampire legend?”
3. Easy enough to read.
4. Does not require any prior knowledge of the subject matter (in fact, if you have prior knowledge, you probably won’t find anything new in this book.
Do I regret reading it? No, oddly enough. I knew most of the contents already, but there were a few bits and pieces here and there that were new.
Would I recommend it? Not to anyone with a serious interest in vampires, but possibly to someone looking for a reasonably light and entertaining overview of post-death superstitions.