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BOOK REVIEW: The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead, by Roger Ma (+ Giveaway!)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Fans of vampire lore, calisthenics, and combat tricks will appreciate this offering from the creator of The Zombie Combat Manual.


: Ma knows what he’s talking about, from his logical take on the Vampire myth to his no-nonsense approach to fitness in a bloodsucker’s world.
CONS: Is sometimes too similar to the The Zombie Combat Manual, but since the books are meant to be part of a series, it can be overlooked.
BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining concept, executed well.

There are three main threads running through this book simultaneously: a discussion of the “truth” about vampires, first hand “accounts” of survivors and ghouls, and an easy-to-understand guide to preparing for a vampire attack.  The vampire facts weren’t that different from what gets discussed with some seriousness by people who think the Twilight movies were way off base. Obviously, vampires don’t sparkle, turn into mist, or want to have sex with you. According to Ma, all of those myths are part of a carefully conceived plan by the creatures of the night to confuse us humans.

Actually, he makes a good argument for it. Vampires want young goth girls to think they’re attractive so they don’t struggle when it’s time to feast. That makes sense, since an unwilling victim can do some damage even to a stronger, quicker attacker. At the same time, if you’re expecting a cornered vampire to turn into a wolf, bat, or rat, you might be distracted when one of those animals comes out of the darkness at you, giving the vampire time to escape. Discerning fact from fiction is the first step in saving your life.

The second step, Ma feels, is to give you eyewitness accounts of the horror you face, so that you’re more emotionally prepared. We all know that one of the biggest dangers we face isn’t from the vamp we don’t know, but from the one that used to be someone we loved. These personal stories range from war time reports to scattered tales from survivors, and even include one-on-one conversations with the talkative undead.

The third step to surviving a vampire attack is to be prepared for it. This means knowing your body type (I’m an “endocombatant”), making peace with your religious and spiritual leanings, and a series of exercises to work those staking muscles. It also means that a big part of the book is dedicated to the various weapons and everyday objects which can save your life.

Ma does not skimp on knowledge. He tells you which martial arts styles might be helpful to know, advises you on how to assess your opponent, and even takes the seasons into consideration. His combat techniques are well-thought out and tailored to your abilities. Kurt Miller’s illustrations add a visual component for those learners who need to see an example of the lesson. There are also helpful notes as to the range and availability of any weapon, as well as the skill level needed to use it properly.

My favorite section was the incredibly detailed discussion of stakes: wood types, weapon dimensions, optimal design, and different ways to mount the stakes on your body (complete with drawings!).

Overall I’d say this is a great addition to any monster-fighting library. I know that if vampires turn out to be real, I want Roger Ma standing between me and their sharp fangs. Failing that, I’ll take the book.

Want to win my review copy of the book? Leave a comment below telling me who which vampire you’d like to be prepared to take out. Nosferatu, Dracula, Lestat, Edward? Winner will be randomly selected from the comments on December 1, 2012.

About Carrie Cuinn (25 Articles)
Carrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. In her spare time she reads, draws, makes things, takes other things apart, and sometimes publishes books. You can find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at
Contact: Website

7 Comments on BOOK REVIEW: The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead, by Roger Ma (+ Giveaway!)

  1. I’d wanna take out any sparkly bloodsucker, and I’d probably go for Bella (the transformed one, duh) first, then Edward.

  2. Jeffrey Beesler // November 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm //

    Hmm. Tough one. Going specifically on which bloodsucker encounter I’d most likely survive if pitted up against one, I’d have to go for Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her slapfest with Xander Harris in one episode makes me believe we’d almost be on the same fighting skill level except for strength.

  3. I think that whomever it was (I can assure you it would NOT be a sparkly version) it would have to be after they had turned me into one. There can be only one amirite? 🙂 The King is dead. Long live the king!


  4. HMMM, for the good of all mankind and to quell the drivelling inanity about his bloody cheekbones, I’d go for Edward in a heartbeat. Any guys who sits at the end of a girl’s bed and watches her sleep is not romantic. He’s a stalker!

    Yep…definitely Edward

  5. While Edward would certainly be the easiest to stake, I think I would be most prepared to take on Dracula. We eat a LOT of garlic in this household, and there’s an apple tree in my backyard that could be used for stakes on the go.

  6. >>Nosferatu, Dracula, Lestat, Edward?<<

    what about carmilla? or lady bathory? or queen akasha? or the unnamed psychic space vampire from lifeforce?

    Personally, taking out the space vampire would be the most appealing…

    oh wait…when you say "take out" you probably mean destroy…that changes things.


  7. And the winner is … Jeff! Going after Harmony seems like the safest bet to me, and she was annoying. Please email me at carriecuinn at with you mailing address so I can send out the book. Thanks for playing!

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