I finished Prince Lestat tonight. I should have finished it on Thursday but I had to take a nap or two that day. And last night I fell asleep with thirty pages to go. It’s not that I was bored, I really wasn’t. But the hubby and I are getting back on the exercising wagon this week and my dog has a situation with his one remaining eye and my mind has not been one hundred percent focused on much of anything besides the pain in my quads and the fact that my dog is going to be sixteen and how long can he possibly live? But I was supposed to be talking about the first Vampire Chronicle since 2003. See what I mean? I’ve been scatterbrained lately.
But I digress. I really did enjoy Prince Lestat, despite how long it took me to get through the last part of it. I wasn’t necessarily expecting the ending (no spoilers here, so stop looking), but once it happened I was not surprised at all. It seemed like it was what was meant to happen all along, or what Anne Rice was working towards, but I’m not sure. She of all people has always seemed to espouse the existentialist philosophy of life being essentially meaningless. But perhaps she has changed over the years. Haven’t we all?
I first read Anne Rice when I was a senior in high school. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I first tried to read Anne Rice when I was maybe a junior in high school. I bought The Witching Hour and tried to read it but I couldn’t get into it. I actually didn’t read the Mayfair Witches series until I was in vet school, and it was cool, but got weird, and I’ve always preferred Anne’s vamps to her witches anyway. I remember stalking the Vampire Chronicles in bookstores in the months before Christmas of 1993, and my mom bought them for me for Christmas that year. I read Interview, The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned over Christmas break. I remember those days so clearly. I could read and read and watch TV and listen to music and never take naps. Ah, to be sixteen again. I loved these books so much. And then I read The Tale of the Body Thief. And that one wasn’t as good. And in 1995 I read Memnoch the Devil, and that book was traumatic. Where were all the wonderful characters from The Queen of the Damned, and why in the hell is Lestat laying in a deserted mansion in New Orleans in some sort of coma? Anyway, I kind of gave up on Anne Rice for a while after that. I got caught up on the series in vet school, during systemic pathology the winter of my second year, and felt like the series was regaining some of its old momentum. But the book I was waiting for still hadn’t turned up. And then, in the fall of 2014, it finally did.
Prince Lestat revisits all the characters we met in The Queen of the Damned, at later points in the series, and introduces some new ones. In the twenty-nine years since the events of that book, the vampires have proliferated again, and the Burnings are starting again, just like they did when Akasha woke up back in the day. I mentioned The Voice in my first post about Prince Lestat. Turns out that The Voice is actually Amel, the demon who possessed Akasha six thousand years ago. Somehow he has become self-aware, and is directing ancient, powerful vampires to kill off the younger vampires of the world, in order to consolidate his energies into fewer vampires. Thankfully, Anne doesn’t even try to get into the genetics/physiology of this creature. I was worried that she would (see my first post), but she doesn’t. All we really get is that the “bulk” of Amel, such as he is, is in The Sacred Core, which is in Mekare, but he also has bits of himself in every single vampire on earth. And at that point she stops trying to explain. And that was for the best, because it’s pretty obvious technology and science are not Anne Rice’s strong suits. It’s fine with me if she leaves it all mostly mysterious rather than doing a poor job of using a medical vocabulary.
In this book, we also get to meet some other spirits and some ghosts. I would have liked to have spent more time with these folks because they seemed interesting. I couldn’t make up my mind while I was reading if Rice was tying up loose ends with this book, or getting ready to start a new phase of the Vampire Chronicles. I really hope it isn’t the end, because I really do enjoy reading about these characters, and now that Lestat is less filled with ennui and has a purpose in life, it’d be nice to see what he does with his life.
Ultimately, it seems to me that this book was about redemption for the vampires. They come to see themselves less as undead things, less as The Children of Darkness, and more as the People of the Savage Garden (paraphrased from p. 425), less as a bunch of isolated individuals, and more as a tribe. At the end they are no longer alone, none of them. After The Queen of the Damned I thought they would all stay in contact, but they didn’t. I hope that now they do, and Anne Rice writes many, many more books about their adventures. Yes, this is my sixteen-year-old self emerging to make herself known on the internet. I know there’s at least a sixty percent chance that Anne Rice will never write about Lestat again. She might never write another book again. She could decide to become Catholic again and join a convent.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read at least the first three books of the Vampire Chronicles. But for me, it was a book I’ve been waiting to read since I was sixteen, and I’m so glad I finally got to read it. No, it’s not perfect. But I don’t think that any of Anne Rice’s books are. I didn’t know that when I first started reading them, just like I couldn’t see how perfect The Portrait of a Lady was when I tried to read it a couple of months before I read the Vampire Chronicles. There is comfort in reading authors you’ve read for years and years, even if it’s not high quality fiction. It’s sort of like coming home, and recently that is what I’ve needed.