In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.
The Vampire Lestat
After the spectacular debut of Interview with the Vampire in 1976, Anne Rice put aside her vampires to explore other literary interests--Italian castrati in Cry to Heaven and the Free People of Color in The Feast of All Saints. But Lestat, the mischievous creator of Louis in Interview, finally emerged to tell his own story in the 1985 sequel, The Vampire Lestat. As with the first book in the series, the novel begins with a frame narrative. After over a half century underground, Lestat awakens in the 1980s to the cacophony of electronic sounds and images that characterizes the MTV generation. Particularly, he is captivated by a fledgling rock band named Satan's Night Out. Determined both to achieve international fame and end the centuries of self-imposed vampire silence, Lestat takes command of the band (now renamed "The Vampire Lestat") and pens his own autobiography. The remainder of the novel purports to be that autobiography: the vampire traces his mortal youth as the son of a marquis in pre-Revolutionary France, his initiation into vampirism at the hands of Magnus, and his quest for the ultimate origins of his undead species
The Queen of the Damned
Did you ever wonder where all those mischievous vampires roaming the globe in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles came from? In this, the third book in the series, we find out. That raucous rock-star vampire Lestat interrupts the 6,000-year slumber of the mama of all bloodsuckers, Akasha, Queen of the Damned. Akasha was once the queen of the Nile (she has a bit in common with the Egyptian goddess Isis), and it's unwise to rile her now that she's had 60 centuries of practice being undead. She is so peeved about male violence that she might just have to kill most of them. And she has her eye on handsome Lestat with other ideas as well.
If you felt that the previous books in the series weren't gory and erotic enough, this one should quench your thirst (though it may cause you to omit organ meats from your diet). It also boasts God's plenty of absorbing lore that enriches the tale that went before, including the back-story of the boy in Interview with the Vampire and the ancient fellowship of the Talamasca, which snoops on paranormal phenomena. Mostly, the book spins the complex yarn of Akasha's eerie, brooding brood and her nemeses, the terrifying sisters Maharet and Mekare. In one sense, Queen of the Damned is the ultimate multigenerational saga. --Tim Appelo
The Tale of the Bodey Thief
The Body Thief is far more psychologically penetrating than its predecessors, with a laser-like focus on a single tormented soul. Oh, we meet some wild new characters, and Rice's toothsome vampire-hero Lestat zooms around the globe--as is his magical habit--from Miami to the Gobi desert, but he's in such despair that he trades his immortal body to a con man named Raglan James, who offers him in return two days of strictly mortal bliss. Lestat has always had a faulty impulse-control valve, and it gets him in truly intriguing trouble this time. On the plus side, he gets to experience romance with a nun and orange juice--"thick like blood, but full of sweetness." But Lestat is horrified by an uncommon cold, and his toilet training proves traumatic. He's also got to catch Raglan James, who has no intention of giving up his dishonestly acquired new superpowered body. Lestat enlists the help of David Talbot, a mortal in the Talamasca, a secret society of immortal watchers described in Queen of the Damned.
Memnoch the Devil
The fifth volume of Rice's Vampire Chronicles is one of her most controversial books. The tale begins in New York, where Lestat, the coolest of Rice's vampire heroes, is stalking a big-time cocaine dealer and religious-art smuggler--this guy should get it in the neck. Lestat is also growing fascinated with the dealer's lovely daughter, a TV evangelist who's not a fraud. Lestat is also being stalked himself, by some shadowy guy who turns out to be Memnoch, the devil, who spirits him away. From here on, the book might have been called Interview with the Devil (by a Vampire). It's a rousing story interrupted by a long debate with the devil. Memnoch isn't the devil as ordinarily conceived: he got the boot from God because he objected to God's heartless indifference to human misery. Memnoch takes Lestat to heaven, hell, and throughout history.
Some readers are appalled by the scene in which Lestat sinks his fangs into the throat of Christ on the cross, but the scene is not a mere shock tactic: Jesus is giving Lestat a bloody taste in order to win him over to God's side, and Rice is dead serious about the battle for his soul. Rice is really doing what she did as a devout young Catholic girl asked to imagine in detail what Christ's suffering felt like--it's just that her imagination ran away with her.
Fans of the ever-popular vampire tales are treated to a journey through ancient Rome as they hear the story of Pandora, and how she became a blood drinker. The mellifluous voice of British actress Janet McTeer makes for a dreamlike telling of the first-person narrative which takes place in the days of Tiberius, Ovid, and an empire that is starting to turn in on itself. Listeners learn of the cunning and impassioned narrator's happy days of growing up in the house of her father, a respected Roman statesman, her forced escape to Antioch and her dreams and visions of an Egyptian queen that foretell her fate. As well as the tumble of violent and supernatural events that lead to her beloved Marius sinking his teeth into her beautiful neck. Pandora's box it now seems is a sarcophagus! While Rice's usual chill and suspense seem somewhat removed given the period setting, the author paints a particularly rich picture of daily life in the Roman empire through the characters' discourses on contemporary issues of the day, and their actions in response to real historical events.
The Vampire Armand
The story begins in the aftermath of Memnoch the Devil. Vampires from all over the globe have gathered around Lestat, who lies prostrate on the floor of a cathedral. Dead? In a coma? As Armand reflects on Lestat's condition, he is drawn by David Talbot to tell the story of his own life. The narrative abruptly rushes back to 15th-century Constantinople, and the Armand of the present recounts the fragmented memories of his childhood abduction from Kiev. Eventually, he is sold to a Venetian artist (and vampire), Marius. Rice revels in descriptions of the sensual relationship between the young and still-mortal Armand and his vampiric mentor. But when Armand is finally transformed, the tone of the book dramatically shifts. Raw and sexually explicit scenes are displaced by Armand's introspective quest for a union of his Russian Orthodox childhood, his hedonistic life with Marius, and his newly acquired immortality. These final chapters remind one of the archetypal significance of Rice's vampires; at their best, Armand, Lestat, and Marius offer keen insights into the most human of concerns.
Vittorio the Vampire
Tired of the same old vampires? Check out Anne Rice's new race of undead bloodsuckers, independent of the Lestat series. Her alterna-vamp books began with Pandora, but the second of her New Tales of the Vampires, Vittorio, is truly a new beginning--a more controlled story and probably the best of her last half-dozen books. Rice has called Vittorio her vampire version of Romeo and Juliet. The hunky Vittorio is sweet 16 and "incalculably rich" in 15th-century Italy, the epoch of the Medicis and Vittorio's favorite painter, madly passionate Filippo Lippi. Florence is to Vittorio what New Orleans is to Interview with the Vampire.
One night, Vittorio's family is butchered by vampires. The gorgeous Ursula spares Vittorio to make him her reluctant undying sweetheart. Ursula's ravishings of Vittorio recall the erotica Rice wrote under her own name and the pen names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure.
Vittorio flees to the creepy town of Santa Maddalana, which has made a pact to sacrifice its young to Lord Florian's vampire horde. Vittorio is bent on revenge as he invades the eerie Court of the Ruby Grail (i.e. blood), as angry with the child-sacrificing humans as he is with Florian's fang gangsters. Torn between lust, murderous rage, and vampire thirst, Vittorio is one interestingly troubled soul
Just when you thought it was safe for a bloodsucker to go out in the dark in New Orleans, along comes Merrick Mayfair, a sultry, hard-drinking octoroon beauty whose voodoo can turn the toughest vampire into a marionette dancing to her merry, scary tune. In Merrick, Anne Rice brings back three of her most wildly popular characters--the vampires Lestat and Louis and the dead vampire child Claudia--and introduces them to the world of her Mayfair Witches book series. It is Louis who brings about the collision of the fang and voodoo universes. Louis made Claudia a vampire in Rice's classic Interview with the Vampire, in which she was destroyed, and now he's obsessed with raising her ghost to make amends and seek guidance from the beyond. (Claudia physically resembles Rice's young daughter who died of a blood-related illness. Rice nearly died of a diabetic coma in 1998, and writing Merrick turned her excruciating recovery into an exhilarating burst of creativity).
Vampire David Talbot lobbies Merrick to call Claudia's spirit and slake Louis's guilt, but Talbot winds up in the grip of an obsession with the witch. You see, Talbot, unlike most vampires, lived 70 years as a human, so his sexual response to humans is still as strong as his blood thirst. Merrick can cast spells to make men crave her, and Talbot is tormented. After she reads his palm, he muses, "I wanted to take her in my arms, not to feed from her, no, not harm her, only kiss her, only sink my fangs a very little, only taste her blood and her secrets, but this was dreadful and I wouldn't let it go on."
The secrets of Merrick are dark and sensuous, but the book is a romp animated by Rice's feeling of coming back to life through the magic of a literary outpouring. The narrative flashes back to the past, to an Indiana Jones-ish adventure in a Guatemalan cave, and to scenes from many other Rice novels. It may be helpful to read Merrick with the Rice-approved guidebooks The Vampire Companion and The Witches' Companion at hand.
Blood and Gold
Out of the pages of the Vampire Chronicles steps the golden-haired Marius, true Child of the Millenia, once mentor to the Vampire Lestat, always and forever the conscientious slayer of the evildoer, and now ready to reveal the secrets of his two-thousand-year-long existence in his own intense yet intimate voice.
Born in Imperial Rome, imprisoned and made a "blood god" by the ancient Druids, Marius is the baffled yet powerful protector of Akasha and Enkil, Queen and King of the vampires, in whom the core of the race resides.
We follow him through his tragic loss of the vampire Pandora, his lover and fledgling creation. Through him we see the fall of pagan Rome to the Christendom of Constantine, and the sack of the Eternal City by the Visigoths. We see him sailing to the glittering city of Constantinople.
Worlds within worlds unfold as Marius, surviving the Dark Ages and the Black Death, emerges in the midst of the Italian Renaissance to create magnificent paintings and a vampirethe boy Armand.
The Witching Hour
Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding stoyrtelling, Anne Rice makes real a family of witches--a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philsophy, a family that is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous and seductive being. "Unfolds like a poisonous lotus blossom redolent with luxurious evil." THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
At the center of this dark and compelling tale is Rowan Mayfair, queen of the coven, who must flee from the darkly brutal, yet irresistable demon known as Lasher. With a dreamlike power, this wickedly seductive entity draws us through twilight paths, telling a chilling and hypnotic story of spiritual aspiration and passion. --This text refers to the Paperback edition
In a swirling universe filled with death and life, corruption and innocence, this mesmerizing novel takes us on a wondrous journey back through the centuries to a civilization half-human, of wholly mysterious origin, at odds with mortality and immortality, justice and guilt. It is an enchanted, hypnotic world that could only come from the imagination of Anne Rice... --This text refers to the Paperback edition
The Mummy or Ramses the damned
In The Mummy Anne Rice weaves the same magic for the world and history of mummies that she previously did for the worlds and mythologies of vampires and witches. Ramses the Great lives, but having drunk the elixir of life, he is now Ramses the Damned, doomed forever to wander the earth, desperate to quell certain mummy hungers that can never be satisfied! --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Cry to Heaven
The acclaimed author of Servant of the Bones makes real for us the exquisite and otherworldly society of the eighteenth-century castrati, the delicate and alluring male sopranos whose graceful bodies and glorious voices brought them the adulation of the royal courts and grand opera houses of Europe, men who lived as idols, concealing their pain as they were adored as angels, yet shunned as half men.
Feast of all Saints
In the days before the Civil War, there lived a Louisiana people unique in Southern histroy. Though descended from African slaves, they were also descended from the French and Spanish who enslaved them. Called the Free People of Color, this dazzling historical novel chronicles the lives of four of them--men and women caught perilously between the worlds of master and slave, privilege and oppression, passion and pain.