“Mon Dieu, a global consciousness, ” I said. “So I’m going to be blamed one way or another for everything?”(Anne Rice, 52) asks Lestat in Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat. It is at this moment that Lestat learns that he is responsible for the possible destruction of all vampires.
I began reading Anne Rice when I was thirteen. I waited and waited for her new books to come out. I’d go to Costco with my mom or my dad would stop by before going to work to bring her new book home for me (her hardbacks were discounted almost $7). That is the dedication I had for Anne Rice. Not only was I affected, but so were my parents. I had to have her books the day they were released. I reread her books. Her authorial voice and direction are so familiar that I could mimic her writing for a poor chapter. The unlucky souls to suffer that chapter would immediately recognize her influence. I mention this because she has created a world in which I am very familiar. And so many other readers (mostly of the goth persuasion) are also just as familiar or more so.
Last year she released Prince Lestat. The book all Anne Rice fans have been waiting for. And it’s true Anne Rice. It’s Anne Rice as she shines brightest. The plot is basic: vampires are being decimated without any reason, and it’s Lestat, the brat prince, to the rescue. And yet, Anne Rice draws out the story, it’s long and descriptive. There’s a history behind each character. She turns this plot into a beautiful story with rich characters and lore. The book is composed of different characters’ viewpoints, some vampiric, some ghost, and some human.
This book, of all her books, felt like a love letter to her fans. A person who never read the Vampire Chronicles would surely enjoy it, but this book refers to the culture that Anne Rice has created. Her characters acknowledge the Vampire Chronicles over and over again. The Chronicles are the reason this story is happening, and it is all Lestat’s fault (because he had to become a rock star(in The Vampire Lestat):
“Lestat, don’t you see, what you did in ‘coming out’ as a vampire to the public was part of the zeitgeist. No, it didn’t change the mortal world in any way, of course not, but how can you underestimate the effects of your books, your words, all of it on all the blood drinkers in existence? You gave the inchoate masses out there an origin story, a terminology, and a personal poetry! Of course this waked old ones, roused from torpor wanderers who’d given up on their own kind. Of course this emboldened mavericks to make other mavericks using the famous Dark Trick, Dark Gift, Dark Blood, etcetera!” (Rice, 64)
Anne Rice uses her previous writing to build this book. In Prince Lestat, her characters refer to her previous books looking for answers: “On Fareed’s desk was a hardcover book, a novel. The Queen of the Damned. It was open to pages 366 and 367. Over and over again, Fareed read these pages.” (Rice, 271)
As Anne Rice is referring to her books, she is poking fun at them through different characters’ points of view. One vampire is upset because he received, “a brief and insulting mention in one of the Vampire Chronicles by Marius, who’d described Everard without naming him as ‘gaunt and big boned’ with dusty clothes and dirty lace.” (Rice, 176) Another vampire refers to Marius’ memoir as reeking “of the same profound romanticism and melancholy” of the other Chronicles. (Rice, 152)
Anne Rice has created a legacy, and as the vampires gain strength in drinking one another’s blood, her story takes strength from the stories she has already written and resurrects past characters, past unnamed vampires and gives them stories here in Prince Lestat. Lost vampires look to the chronicles to learn their history. And then there are those who want so badly to be a part of the lore, that they pretend to be a part of it:
“There’s lots of swaggering dudes walking around pretending to be Lestat. I was down in New Orleans last year and there were so many fake Lestats swaggering around in pirate shirts and cheap boots, you wouldn’t believe it. The place is overrun.” (Rice, 128)
Perhaps my favorite bit of the vampire lore are the goth kids that exist on the periphery. They are hinted at, just enough, to remind the reader that we belong in Anne Rice’s world. Her books are ours. Our culture borrows from hers:
“Lestat backed up the marble steps towards the portico, pausing with upraised hangs, letting all those iPhones and camras snap, even beaming at a mortal couple, young curious, tourists in the big city, who passed wondering what manner of celebrity was this and then hurried on, slipping through the shifting blood drinkers as if they were mere Goth kids who would never harm anyone.” (Rice, 355)
I try to read her books objectively, as a mature reader who has read so many other books since I first read Interview with the Vampire. And each time I enter her supernatural world, I’m comforted. I want to read of gothic creatures of the night that still wear victorian garb. I appreciate the culture that runs through her chronicles. And also, I love the luxurious descriptions she uses to build a scene:
They sat at a white-marble-top table in two white-painted Chinese Chippendale chairs in this glass garden room with its fragile white lilies and its exquisite wisteria. Gregory was dressed as always in his immaculate three-piece wool suit, hair very short, and Armand, the long-haired angel, wore a severe but beautifully colored dark burgundy jacket with bright gold buttons, and a white shirt that was almost luminous in its silk, with a thick white silk scarf for a tie wrapped around his neck and folded into the open shirt collar. (Rice, 282)