The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice
Another re-read and old favourite from my teen/tween days. I read the first three books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them. Alas, this is another book were I remembered almost nothing of the plot but the broadest strokes. A monster of a book with very dense print on 599 pages, packing many parts with distinct plotlines and various stories of other vampires besides Lestat, provided backstory and a pretty comprehensive explanations of the world he lives in.
The pacing was too slow for me, but the story pulled me along. We touch down in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, visit the Celts and meet druids, finally get a good, long look at pre-revolutionary France and Paris, travel around Europe and eventually make our way into the new world. Interview with the Vampire (my review) Armand and Louis make an appearance and we meet new characters that will have a major impact in the next book of the series.
Existential questions are discussed at length. Faith, god, good and evil, relationships, love, rituals… I have to confess that I skimmed past a few of those paragraphs. Online somewhere I read a description of Rice‘s writing style as both verbose and overly philosophical. I tend to agree. Sometimes the writing was a bit convoluted as well. There were some longer passages that I reread several times and I was still unsure afterwards what she wanted to tell me. Her livelong on-and-off affair with organized religion and the catholic church will have been a major influence here.
There was a much stronger gay vibe than I remember. It was pretty clear for me this time around that Lestat and Nicholas were in a relationship, although it is never explicitly spelled out.
Parts I did not like: the fixation on the superiority of blue-eyed blond people. Lack of meaningful female characters besides Gabrielle. General disdain of women as weak or, if strong, as unpredictable (deranged and dangerous?)—why do female writers perpetuate that image? Lack of diversity.
Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. Vampire Lestat is a much broader and complicated story with an even slower pace. It turns Louis into a very unreliable narrator, as this is quite a different Lestat to the first book. Or is Lestat pulling our leg? And Armand is a lot less likable, which makes it hard for me to relate to Lestat‘s love for him. Anyhow, I liked the book despite the above mentioned parts.
I plan to read the next three books of the series:
The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles — reread
The Tale of the Body Thief — unsure if I have read this
Memnoch the Devil — new to me
I will see how I feel about the rest of the series, the plot summaries sound increasingly bizarre.
5 thoughts on “Vampire, Boss Level”
I never got into this series—I think I read Interview way back in the day, but I never continued. I suspect it was Rice’s writing style, which just didn’t vibe with the kind of books I wanted to read. I had wondered how well the series held up, though, since it helped shape the genre.
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You could give it another try… it‘s definitely not your typical UF, for that it‘s too slowly paced.
This was my favorite by Anne Rice. I read a few others in the series and then gradually lost interest. Lestat seemed to me a new and different kind of vampire, at the time.
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I think Lestat was probably responsible for starting a massive subgenre of fantasy/horror… and I doubt that I will progress much past those books that I have planned so far.