9. The Passage, by Justin Cronin (2010)

When it comes to vampire fiction, all of the talk as of late, of course, has involved Stephanie Meyer’s hack-tastic Twlight series and Charlaine Harris’ trashy, fun, but oftentimes silly Sookie Stackhouse novels (the source material for HBO’s True Blood). And by that, we mean that’s what teenyboppers and cool-chasing readers are discussing.

Smart and self-challenging bibliophiles, however, should pledge their vamp allegiance to Justin Cronin’s massive, 800-page roller coaster novel The Passage. The book’s villains are technically infected with a virus, but Cronin doesn’t hesitate to identify his hairless, bug-like creatures that glow in the dark as, yes, vampires. Showing their destruction over a 90-year span, The Passage explores the monsters' singular force in extremely thorough detail.

Cronin, an extraordinary storyteller, knows that a great horror novel requires more than just cool villains, though, setting the book’s heart on the shoulders of a father and his young daughter, the latter being humanity’s only hope for survival. Needless to say, expectations are Eiffel-Tower-high for Cronin’s sequel, The Twelve, due to heat up bookstores in October.