Having perhaps bled all the possibilities out of earthly children of the night, Rice (Prince Lestat, 2014, etc.) takes a bite out of two big bodies of myth.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Pity poor Prince Lestat; he was once able to roam the world without a care, nipping and frolicking, but now he has administrative duties and, with them, fresh enemies seeking a shot at power. One constant source of irritation is the stately Rhoshamandes who has suddenly come into an all-day sucker of a captive whose ever flowing juice has “nutrients that human blood does not have.” A fine thing for a vampire’s inventory, to be sure, but a portal as well into a world whose technology, as so often happens, has outpaced its morals. Down in that watery realm, the denizens scorn the place where “a dreadful thing had happened in that mammals had gained self-awareness and intelligence and now ruled the planet.” The better to provide vampire chow, one might say. But the Atalantayans have their hungers, too, and the hungriest of them seems to have latched on to poor Lestat. Inner voice, nothing: Amel is much more than a haunting spirit, “as different from ghosts,” another superevolved being tells us, “as angels are from humans.” Who will prevail? Well, if Amel sometimes conjures Charlie Manson, Lestat sounds like Twiggy once the fussing and feuding between immortal domains is settled: “This is our universe,” he says, “We too are made of stardust as are all things on this planet; we too belong.” Yeah, well. Fans of Rice’s vampire fiction will feast on whatever they can of hers, but Ignatius Donnelly/Edgar Cayce aficionados may twitch at all the “kindred in the Blood” stuff uneasily mixed in with the old lost continent mythos.
Rice’s latest excursion into otherly realms may leave some readers feeling overstuffed—but others, to be sure, will be hungry for more.