Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice

interviewBook Description (Amazon): Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force–a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: imaginative

The book club topic this month is for everyone to pick a novel by the same author–Anne Rice. I had never read Interview with a Vampire (or any of Rice’s books) and I figured that was the best one to start with. My sister, however, loves Rice and lent me this book (which is awesome and old), the sequel, and the movie (which I will post about later when I watch it). I travelled over the Thanksgiving holiday so I finished the book easily on the flight.

So it’s my understanding that there hadn’t really been any vampire books from the original Dracula type stories until Rice came out with this book in 1975. Indirectly, I suspect Rice is responsible for Twilight. 

As anticipated in the title, a person (only ever referred to as “the boy”) is interviewing a vampire for his life story. The vampire, Louis, was originally an indigo plantation owner near New Orleans in the late 1700s. His father is dead so he is the head of the plantation with his mother, sister, and brother. After his brother mysteriously dies, he delves into a deep depression. He is visited by a vampire named Lestat who wants to own Louis’s plantation.  A deal is made. Lestat turns Louis into a vampire; Louis moves his mother and sister out from the plantation; and Lestat and his old, blind father move in. Lestat is quite controlling of Louis but yet teaches him very little (Lestat likely knows very little himself since there are no other vampires with him and since his father is still alive, he obviously hasn’t been a vampire very long).

Louis has moral and psychological issues with killing humans whereas Lestat does not (and also does not understand why Louis does). Lestat kills wildly and eventually the slaves on the plantation begin to suspect something suspicious is happening. They plan an uprising. Lestat’s father is dying, and Louis finishes him off so that they can burn down the estate and escape to New Orleans.

Louis hasn’t eaten for a while, and he hears a small girl crying alongside her mother who is dead from the plague. Louis feeds on her, and Lestat sees him. Lestat decides to return to the girl and turn her into a vampire so that he can entice Louis to stay. Louis hates the idea but he soon becomes her parent/tutor and loves her tremendously. Claudia has the killing instincts of Lestat but the curiosity of Louis. As time goes on, she continues to become more and more angry that Lestat created her as she can never age. Although her mind is that of a woman, her body is stuck as a child. Eventually she plots to kill Lestat. Louis doesn’t want to, but he also won’t stop her, so one evening, she entices him to feed on a poisoned child and then cuts his throat. She and Louis dump Lestat’s body in a nearby swamp.

Louis and Claudia plan a trip to Europe to find others like themselves. Before they leave New Orleans, Lestat appears back from the dead with a young assistant vampire and attacks them. They manage to set the house on fire and escape to Europe. Lestat must be dead.

Based on Claudia’s readings, presumably the old stories of vampires such as Dracula, the pair begin in eastern Europe. They find vampires, but nothing like themselves. These old vampires are more like zombies. Frustrated, they decide to go to Paris–somewhere they can both speak fluently. There they discover a group of vampires with a leader named Armand. Among the group, he is the oldest but he did not create all the others. Most of the others, specifically a vampire called Santiago, are set in the old ways and are suspicious of Louis and Claudia (mostly suspecting that they killed their maker which is a crime punishable by death).

Armand tells Claudia that she should kill herself because she shouldn’t be a vampire at all. He loves Louis and wants Louis to leave Claudia, but he knows that Louis will never voluntarily do that. So Claudia convinces Louis to make a new vampire to care for her–a doll maker named Madeleine. Madeleine loves Claudia and makes her lots of child sized “adult clothes”. She uses her talents to create furniture and other stuff for Claudia to make her happy. The three live together for a while until Claudia tells Louis that she and Madeleine wish to return to New Orleans. They begin planning this while Armand teaches Louis additional vampire skills like climbing.

In the midst of their planning, the three are suddenly kidnapped by Santiago and his goons.  Lestat has come for them. He is lonely and wants Louis to return to live with him. Louis has no interest, but is willing to return in exchange for Claudia’s safety. Santiago only wants Louis and Claudia to suffer for trying to kill their creator. Louis is forcibly put into a coffin to starve but is eventually rescued by Armand. Louis finds that Claudia and Madeleine were left outside when the sun rose to be killed. Lestat returns to New Orleans. Louis is beside himself and decides to burn the theatre to the ground. Only Armand survives.

Armand and Louis travel around Europe. Louis tries to forget about Claudia and the terrible situation in Paris, but he never really recovers. Eventually Armand leaves as Louis’s depression has dissolved their attachment. Louis returns to New Orleans. While there, he discovers that Lestat still lives but is surviving on animals and is essentially mad.

As Louis finishes his interview, the boy asks Louis if he will convert him into a vampire. Louis is mortified. He figured that after his story of evil and pain, that no one would ever choose that for themselves. However, the boy ends the story with the intention of tracking down Lestat, presumably to be converted.

Verdict: 4 stars. Despite reading this many years after it was published, it is easy to see how this book rejuvenated vampires in popular culture. The story itself was enticing and explored many levels of morality and evil both in humans and in vampires.  The writing style was fluid, but not so flowery that it was hard to read. It seemed appropriate for the story. I’m really glad I finally read this book, although I do wish I had read it before reading all of the young adult fiction involving vampires.

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Filed under 4 stars, Book Club, Book Review

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