Vampires, anyone? They’re everywhere, and they’ve never been more popular. Think for a minute, and then name as many as you can. The first ones that must spring to mind are Dracula (duh), Vampire Bill (hello!), Count von Count (obviously), and Edward (urgh). And the vampires mentioned in Anne Rice’s cult series The Vampire Chronicles. Having read the first instalment some time ago, I thought the time was ripe for its sequel, The Vampire Lestat. Oh boy, was I wrong. Why? Read on!
Vampires are strong, they’re sexy, they’re glamorous, they’re rich, they’re handsome, they’re mysterious, and, most importantly, they’re immortal. In the book, veteran vampire Lestat the Lioncourt is very much all of the above, as well as a famous rock star. He finds out that his protégé, lover, and offspring Louis has told his story to a journalist, and, to set the record straight, decides to write his own version of what happened. To me, vampire stories are two things: musings on what it means to be immortal, and a way to examine the notion of good and evil. The Vampire Lestat is no exception.
The book consists of a strange and confusing series of events. It starts in the south of France, moves on to Paris, lingers in Italy for a bit, has a flashback to the north of Europe, and eventually ends up in Egypt, which is where the first vampire originated. Oh, and there’s a first love, a mother-turned-vampire-turned-lover, new lovers, and some terribly old vampires who, well, I don’t even know what they’re there for. While trying to find out who he is, what vampires are, where they come from, and whether they are the devil’s minions, Lestat meets many different vampires, all of whom have their own narrative within the novel. I guess Anne Rice wanted The Vampire Lestat to be some sort of epic vampire origin story, but I’m afraid it only works in theory; all these different voices make the story quite incoherent at times, and the story never seems to reach a real climax.
In fact, I had a hard time finishing this novel. Random things kept happening, and it felt like it was going nowhere by going all over the place. Ironically, it was this that made me truly consider the burden of immortality: things never stop happening. Life goes on and on and on, and it becomes harder and harder to decide what’s important. This book has a plot which is filled to the brim with so many narratives, that it fails to truly engage, or even make sense. (Well, there’s a lesson to all you writers out there.)
All in all, it took me three weeks before I had finally finished it. I kept thinking there were so many other things I could have done, so many other books I could have read instead. I felt completely drained when I finally put the book down. Now I know why immortality is so alluring: when you live forever, there is no such thing as a waste of time.
Have you read this book? Do you agree with me, or do you think it’s actually a modern masterpiece? Please let me know in the comments!