Dracula is one of those books like La Dame aux Camélias better known through adaptations than in its original form. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Stoker’s novel is just another iteration of the vampire myth, rather than being the source from which all the others spring. I know there were earlier vampire novels, but they would have been completely forgotten today were it not for Stoker. He invented the character and much of the lore surrounding Dracula, he established Transylvania as the vampire’s home, and he infused the story with the sexual hysteria that has made it so popular and important. And make no mistake, Dracula is all about sex, and the fear of sex. Obviously I love all the supernatural stuff, especially with Jonathan in Dracula’s castle – but the bit that really struck me when I first read it was the sequence in which all of Lucy’s suitors attempt to cure her with blood transfusions. The business of pipes and wounds and bodily fluids is bludgeoningly obvious, but none the less powerful for that. Like the old stager he was, Stoker handles his effects with showmanlike skill, and keeps the narrative thundering along to the very last page. There’s one more vampire novel coming on this list – I’m having qualms about it being higher up than Dracula now. But seeing as we’re in the top 20, placings and positions are becoming pretty arbitrary.