The return of the Prince

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 7:25am

Anne Rice’s latest installment in the Vampire Chronicles brings her characters into the (technological) light

PrinceLestat_bk
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice, (2014, Alfred A. Knopf), $29; 464 pp.

It had been 12 years since I last picked up a new addition to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series (I somehow missed 2003’s Blood Canticle), so when the review copy for Prince Lestat arrived in my office, I was practically giddy with excitement.

And I am glad to say, I was not disappointed.

Full disclosure: I went into this already a huge fan of Rice. I have been since I first read Interview with the Vampire lo, these many years ago. So I am sure there are folks out there who won’t like Prince Lestat, and who might say I lack critical objectivity, questioning the validity of my opinion. But to hell with them — I’m right. It’s a fabulous book.

Prince Lestat shares that epic, sweeping sense of romantic history — historic romance? — that fills each of Rice’s books, whether she is writing about vampires or witches or castrati or ghosts or Christ. That is one of the things I love most about her work: the way she can create such a specific sense of time and place, with characters that are so much a part of that time and place (even if they are the outsiders), and at the same time make you feel how it all fits into the world at large.

Her stories and her characters have always been both intimate and grand, personal and public, fantastical and historical. That remains true in Prince Lestat.

There are some differences, though, between this new novel and earlier Vampire Chronicles tales. While the other installments have usually spanned centuries, Prince Lestat is more rooted in the present. It is about what’s happening now, in this high-tech age of eternal daylight where nothing stays secret for long, to creatures who have lived for centuries in the shadows by always keeping their secrets safe.

I love the way Rice has reached into the seemingly inconsequential details of previous stories to bring back characters that we, perhaps, didn’t even notice as distinct characters the first time around, and the way she has wrapped up some ongoing storylines (Where did the Talamasca come from?), while at the same time opening up some most intriguing new ones. (Don’t ask; I won’t tell. No spoilers here.)

My wife does not like Rice’s books — her writing style is too florid and, in a sense, dense for her tastes. But it is in part those exact attributes that draw me to Rice’s books. The style fits the dramatic, passionate and intricate lives of the characters whose stories the author tells.

That drama and passion continue in Prince Lestat, which is, I believe, a feast for Anne Rice fans. And while I don’t expect it to win over my wife, I do think it will create new Rice aficionados, who — like me — are already waiting for the next Vampire Chronicles tale to come out.

— T.N.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 14, 2014.

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