Author: Anne Rice
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Iconic vamp Lestat returns to reclaim his place as literature’s favourite bloodsucker but is Anne Rice flogging an undead horse or resurrecting a fan favourite for the 21st century?
Given that we last saw Lestat in 2003’s Blood Canticle, news of his return this year raised more than a few eyebrows given the bloody flood of vampiric antics we’ve had to contend with in mainstream books, movies and television over the past few years. We’ve been bombarded with Buffy and Angel, tortured by Twilight, titillated by True Blood and downright terrified by 30 Days Of Night and every variation on the theme in between. Have we reached saturation point?
It would have been very easy for Anne Rice to just continue from where she left off in 2003. There are plenty of fans out there who would happily have watched Lestat continue on his usual adventures but so much has happened in both his own world and the human one since his last outing that there is plenty for our hero to contend with and a much bigger story to be told.
A mysterious voice is speaking telepathically to the ancients among the vampire community persuading them to destroy younger vampires on an unprecedented scale.
Still guilt-ridden from previous events, Lestat has been living in exile since but he too now hears the voice and, while he resists its horrendous suggestions, he’s compelled to discover its secrets and save his kind from total extinction.
The good news is that Rice picked a perfect time to return to the world of the Vampire Chronicles. So much has changed in the last ten years that the modern world is now a very different challenge for blood drinkers. Moving from a time when the internet was in its infancy and phones were used to make phone calls, Vampires, like humans, have embraced modern technology to use to their advantage.
iPhones are standard issue, internet radio is their method of mass communication, information is now easily available and yet they still manage to maintain a relatively low profile. Science and research now plays an important part of their evolution and like their human counterparts they take full advantage of the resources available to them, although some less successfully than others. Lestat himself struggles with this new technology, constantly losing his phones and forgetting email addresses and passwords.
Many characters from the previous Chronicles make a reappearance (some surprisingly) and most have an important part to play in the events unfolding (a handy appendix with all the characters is included and, I have to admit, there were one or two I’d forgotten about after all these years) and some new ones are introduced, although I did find at certain points that the narrative became slightly cluttered with too many players to a point where they seemed to be almost tripping over each other.
This was just a minor inconvenience though.
Overall, the plot moves swiftly, tastefully decorated by Rice’s beautiful prose yet sharply contrasted by plenty of old-school blood and gore which will please her stalwart fans greatly and hopefully attract some new ones. It also deals with the origins of the vampire in more detail than previously and also the founding of the Talamasca (an ancient order who track and study vampires) and their true agenda.
Lestat himself has evolved, yet struggles with being the best known of his kind. Although it seems inevitable that he will eventually take leadership, he resists constant calls for his return and it’s not until the crisis becomes personal that he truly embraces his calling and takes control of the situation at hand. His attitudes have changed drastically and although he’s still the “Brat Prince” he has shed much of his arrogance. Indeed, one thing we begin to notice in Prince Lestat is that the vampire world (particularly the ancients) are taking a much more proactive approach to how they live their lives and coexist with humans. Don’t worry though, Lestat is more than capable of revisiting his brutal nature when challenged. He hasn’t gone all Edward Cullen on us.
Although this is the 13th book in the series, it certainly feels more in tune with the first three (Interview With The Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen Of The Damned), dealing heavily with the aftermath of the latter. For the first-time reader there is a glossary of terms at the start and details of the other books with a brief synopsis. While it’s not completely necessary to have read the previous books, I’d recommend at least reading the first three if you want to be fully immersed in this world as it certainly adds to the enjoyment.
4 out of 5 Nerds