Armand, Seth, Akasha and, of course, Lestat de Lioncourt are back with a vengeance—and, natch, they’re looking to put the bite on someone.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Lestat fans had reason to fear they’d seen the last of their—well, man, maybe, depending on how you define “man.” After an 11-year dry spell since Blood Canticle (2003), though, Rice has resurrected her Vampire Chronicles, picking up where one of the earlier books, The Queen of the Damned (1988), left off. A lot’s happened since that time. For one thing, the vamps have plenty of new technology to play with, with Lestat himself, the rock star manqué, in love with his iPod and with that undead popster Jon Bon Jovi, “playing his songs over and over obsessively.” That adulation is about the most frightening thing in Rice’s latest; it’s not that the novel is without its spine-tingling moments so much as that Rice has prepared the ground too well, with not just her own legacy, but also a legion of lesser imitators (Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, et al.) competing with her on the sanguinary-moments front. The latest installment finds the vamps at war with themselves, crowded on a planet with plenty of competition, indeed, but with plenty of juicy humans to nibble on: “So rich, so healthy, so filled with exotic flavors, so different from blood in the time he’d been made.” Rice extends the Chronicles even farther into the past, rounding out storylines stretching into ancient Egypt, while reintroducing a large cast of familiars and adding some new characters to the mix. Suffice it to say, first, that the vamps are no longer limiting their recruitment to liberal arts majors, to the poets and singers of yore; suffice it also to say that the busy intergenerational (and inter–planes of existence) conflict that ensues screams out for at least one sequel, if not a string of them.
Rice fans probably need not fear a drought of her thirst-quenching tales, then. As for this one, it’s trademark Rice: talky, inconsequential, but good old-fashioned fanged fun.