Of crunching bones, collapsing veins, and nicely coordinated outfits: Rice’s Vampire Chronicles gets a fresh transfusion.
Alas, poor Rhoshamandes: He was about the only character to breathe any new life, so to speak, into Rice’s pallid vamp saga thanks to some stately if gory moments in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis (2016). And now—well, like the series, old Rosh has seen better days. Meanwhile, the longtime ringmaster of the sharp-toothed show, Lestat, is consolidating his power while taking an increasingly evident interest in aesthetics that, in lesser hands, would likely translate into a barrage of product placement. As it is, a few brand names slip through: Wouldn’t you just know it that a vampire wouldn’t be seen dead with an Android? It’s not just that, as Lestat observes, “Almost all vampires are beautiful,” but that the good stuff gets called out, from “English Chippendale chairs” to “rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires everywhere that one looked, or ropes of pearls and barrettes and pins of gold and silver.” And why so much attention to the things of the world? Perhaps because, as it seems, Lestat doesn’t have much to occupy himself with apart from a literal rock-star moment and all that politicking with Rhoshamandes, who, it has to be said, had more than a shot or two at making things good with Lestat and company. The story takes some time to gather momentum, a shame for a book that’s so short, especially as compared to others in the series. Still, while most of the proceedings seem a familiar footnote to the larger series as it’s unfolded over the decades, there are some nicely icky passages that would give Stephen King pause: “I threw the headless body onto the coverlet, tossed the smashed and empty head on top of the body, then gathered up even the heart and what I’d vomited of the brain and the eyes, and flung them all together…."
Just the bucket of blood for die-hard Rice fans.