You know when you’ve been to the cinema during the day time, so entranced by whatever you’re watching that the tub of popcorn is empty without you knowing that the lot has been devoured, and next thing you know you’re standing outside, blinking in the daylight, even maybe drooling slightly?
Reading Prince Lestat was a lot like that, and I think that a second and third reading will be necessary to take it all in.
The first of The Vampire Chronicles, the ground-breaking Interview with a Vampire, was released in 1976 and came to a halt with Blood Canticle in 2003. Now Anne Rice is back with Prince Lestat, and how.
The vampire world is in crisis. Does that make your little black, bleak heart beat a little more strongly? It did mine. Now, perhaps, you haven’t read all of The Vampire Chronicles. It could be that you didn’t pick up the first of the series when you were sixteen, as I did. And honestly, I don’t think it matters so much, though if you read Prince Lestat first, you may well want to go back and read the others too. Or re-read them, joy!
What you may miss out on though, is quite what a progression Lestat has made through the years, that dashing, dandy vampire gentleman, who has fallen time and again, yet is called upon in the hour of great need.
This is not a short, easy-going book. It is, in fact, a more of an epic tome and one that needs to be read slowly and surely to really enjoy the vast spanning of the centuries, continents and characters. Not to mention changes. Anne Rice is a master storyteller, and her prose is vivid and hugely descriptive, so if a pulp ride is your thing, this book is probably not for you. But never say never.
And Lestat is not the only one who has progressed. The characters we know and love, and how marvellous to meet them all again, have moved on and embraced the modern world wholeheartedly.
The main conflict in the book comes from the mysterious Voice who is urging vampire to turn again vampire in a kind of hideous ethnic cleansing. Who is the Voice? How can the Children of the Night stop the Voice? If only there was one of their kind that they all knew from his previous exploits who could lead them to safety – and as happens, a kind of redemption and new world order.
This complex book is full of revelations as we catch up with characters ten plus years on, and full of revelations in a biblical sense, with vampiric lore and canons, kings and queens, gods and mortals, the fallen and the redeemed playing the tale out on a gory, bloody stage.