Today I’m looking at something that’s really more of a “negative power” — a weakness.
Originally, vampires in the old penny-dreadful movies could be repelled by holy objects — crucifixes, holy water, a bible. They would reel away in horror, their arms up to hide their faces, hissing in agony, when a cross was thrust towards them. A bible was always sufficient protection against the undead, until the heroine conveniently left it on her bedside table while she traipsed in the woods at midnight.
Garlic, a natural antibiotic that filters through human blood, is also repellent to vampires.
But vampires in more modern literature are sometimes able to overcome these traditional weaknesses. I always remember the sheer thrill I got from Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, when his vampires tossed aside crucifixes with disdain, when such devices had always worked in the past. It opened up all sorts of horrible/exciting possibilities after that!
The southern vampires and French imports of today’s literature seem to be more amused by holy water, et al, than afraid of them, but some of them are still offended by garlic. As with most of the vampire powers, it is become a function of the author’s universe as to how these weaknesses are treated. The reader gets to discover if the author has included them — or even considered them — as they learn more about the characters on their way through the book.
Have you seen any interesting uses of these devices in your reading?