In the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels, author Laurell K. Hamilton has developed a detailed mythology. Her series is an alternate history that assumes that the supernatural is real, and that vampires, lycanthropes, and other supernatural beings live alongside humans in a society that otherwise resembles modern day North America. Although the existence of supernatural beings has been public knowledge for centuries in the Anitaverse, its history has otherwise unfolded so identically to that of the real world that the series contains occasional references to the popular culture of the 1990s, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the O.J. Simpson trial, and others.
There are many different types of vampires discussed in Anita Blake's mythology. The only real universal trait is that they are blood drinking reanimated human corpses, risen from the dead to prey on the living, with a variety of diverse superhuman powers which grow stronger with each passing year. Their physical strength is superhuman; able to lift cars with ease, and they move with incredible celerity. Their senses are heightened to the point were they can tell a human's emotional state by his or her scent, or hear whispered comments from some distance away. They do not age nor decay, and though they can starve, they cannot starve to death. They are also extremely difficult to harm; wounds from most objects, even bullets, heal in seconds without causing them any seeming discomfort. They are vulnerable to fire or wounds to the heart caused by wooden or silver weapons. They dislike garlic, can be repelled by religious icons wielded by people with faith, and are burned by holy water and sunlight. Generally they are turned by being bitten 3 times on 3 subsequent nights and then taught by their master on the rights, rituals and general rules of "living," which includes a blood oath between the master and subservient vampire (read: does not necessarily require a newly turned individual). This generally in turn leads to the vampire hierarchy of master to Master of the City. These master vampires in turn owe their allegiance to the top of the vampire hierarchy the Vampire Council. Also included are feral vampires who have either been without blood, tortured and subjected to holy items for too long. Once a feral state, the vampire loses its ability to reason and only becomes obsessed with feeding. When this state is reached by a vampire, it is nearly impossible to reverse or control without being destroyed. Anita managed to bring Damian back from this state by taking his blood oath.
Zombies are mindless humans or animals raised from the dead by an animator, a vaundun practitioner, or a necromancer. Although they may appear human and have some of their memories at first, zombies quickly lose their memories and begin to rot. Zombies do not need to eat, but if fed meat, zombies will rot more slowly or not at all. Although not supernaturally strong, zombies are able to use their entire strength without concern for exhaustion or damage. They typically obey their creator's orders absolutely. Zombies are able to operate in daylight, but prefer night, and will hide during the day if permitted. If an animator's corpse is raised as a zombie, it will arise as a flesh-eating zombie -- uncontrollable, much faster than a normal zombie, and with a taste for human flesh. The zombie can only regain its memory and personality by eating human flesh. In another instance, if the victim of a murder is risen as a zombie, the zombie will rise and then actively seek out its murderer. The zombie will then kill the murderer after attacking anything that has gotten in its way. Whether or not such a zombie is then capable of being questioned and controlled like other zombies is unclear. Vaundun priestess Dominga Salvador created two apparently novel types of zombies. Salvador was capable of storing the soul of a dead person in a bottle, allowing her to raise zombies before their souls had passed on. By returning the soul to the zombie, Salvador created zombies with souls. This process prevented the zombies from rotting while they had souls, and served as further punishment for the deceased. Salvador also created a sort of zombie chimera by animating parts of several humans and animals, then melding them into a single monstrous zombie. A version of this type of zombie is also seen in Obsidian Butterfly.
Anita has encountered ghosts before. According to her, ghosts cannot actually harm a living person, but paying attention to them allows them to become more solid and attempt to harass or scare their victims. Anita generally tries to avoid animating a corpse if the deceased person's ghost is still haunting their grave. She appears to have no power over them, either, as ghosts are a type of "soul magic," as noted in The Laughing Corpse. As yet, no clear information on their legal status in the Anitaverse has been revealed.
Ghouls are undead scavengers, who hunt in packs, typically near the cemetery where they live, feeds on human corpses and living human flesh. Ghouls have animal or child-level intelligence and typically haunt cemeteries that are no longer holy ground, either because of the passage of time or because of some unholy ritual. Ghouls regard non-ghouls as either potential food or something to run from. As yet, animators in the Anitaverse do not know why most ghouls rise from the dead, although in one case, a pack of ghouls apparently rose when Zachary, an animator, was buried and rose from the dead. The female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is given ghilan.
Numerous different types of shapeshifters exist in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter universe, including werewolves and wererats. Anita distinguishes between lycanthropes, which includes solely persons infected by contact with another lycanthrope's bodily fluids, and shapeshifters, a class that includes both lycanthropes and persons who are able to shapeshift as a result of magic, such as a personal or family curse.