Lestat

With the Release of Prince Lestat, I’m Falling In Love With New Orleans All Over Again

I have always been obsessed with New Orleans.  When I read Interview with the Vampire when I was 14, my love affair truly began.  With every Anne Rice book I read, the city came to life in my imagination.  I read everything I could about the city.

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans over Thanksgiving weekend.  It was a work trip, but it allowed me a chance to visit the city I already knew I loved.

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New Orleans was everything I imagined it would be, and more.  I fell in love with the city in earnest.  The world of Anne Rice’s vampires came to life.  I could imagine Lestat and Louis walking down one of the narrow streets in the French Quarter.  I strolled along the streets of the Garden District and saw the house on First Street that had been Anne Rice’s home for so many years.

It’s rare these days to have a book series generate such a love affair with a particular location.  We saw it with Twilight and Forks, Washington, I suppose, and we’re seeing it now with Fifty Shades of Grey fans flocking to Seattle.

For me, though, the visit wasn’t important because I’m a fan of the books and the characters; rather it was that I wanted to see for myself that such a magical place could exist.  And it was true.  New Orleans has its own magic, its own charm, and no other city in the world can recreate that charm.  New Orleans was as central a character in Anne Rice’s books as Lestat himself.  The city was more than a setting.  It came to life in the books.  I saw the banana tress and the wrought-iron railings.  They appeared exactly as described.

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With the release of Anne Rice’s new novel, Prince Lestat, I find  myself fondly reminiscing about my trip to New Orleans, even though New Orleans really isn’t featured in the book.

If you haven’t been there, you must visit.  You simply must.  I cannot wait to walk the cobbled streets and smell the beignets from the Cafe du Monde.

Ah, New Orleans.

Prince Lestat: A Review (Spoiler Free)

Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles

By Anne Rice

Release Date: October 28, 2014

Review by Sarabeth Pollock

Review Date:  November 1, 2014

 

The Vampire Lestat is back.

After eleven years, Anne Rice has returned to The Vampire Chronicles in a purely brilliant tour de force that’s sure to delight fans young and old.  Rice is a master at creating vibrant mythologies.  From her vampires to her witches and everything in between, she cultivates worlds that are rich with history and character.  It’s clear that everything in the book has been meticulously researched, and every detail cross referenced for accuracy.  Prince Lestat is no exception; this is an epic story that spans 8,000 years and brings together the familiar faces fans know and love as well as exciting newcomers who make a welcome addition to the mythos.

The story begins with a mysterious Voice that has been causing a stir among the world’s vampire population, speaking to the elders and telling them to exterminate the hordes of fledglings that have amassed over the years.  There’s a bit of an overpopulation problem facing the vampire world since The Burning that took place during Akasha’s reign of terror in Queen of the Damned.  Now, scores of vampires are dying around the world and there’s no telling who will be next.  That leaves the million dollar question: Who is behind this Voice and what does it want?

Lestat returns as our fearless narrator.  Lestat is as puzzled by the Voice as everyone else, and he’s determined (albeit reluctantly) to get to the bottom of it.  He weaves through time like a warm knife cuts through butter.  We move from present day to the time just after the events of The Tale of the Body Thief, and all parts in between.  Along the way we meet up with old friends who are equally concerned about this Voice and its motivations, and this quest for answers unearths many shocking truths that will impact the vampire world for years to come.

It’s not difficult to understand Lestat’s magnetism and how it has continued to grow over the years.  Lestat, as an archetype, is appealing to many people in the same way that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki appealed to so many in Thor and The Avengers.  They’re dark heroes, anti-heroes, and their charismatic personalities make them irresistible, even when they’re at their most exasperating.  Lestat has been on a quest for redemption for a long while, dating back to well-before 2003’s Blood CanticlePrince Lestat takes Lestat full circle on his quest, though he never stops being the Brat Prince his fans know and love.

Anne Rice books are like beautiful symphonies, and Prince Lestat is no different: It starts out slowly, allowing the drama and anticipation to build, until the story reaches a feverish crescendo.  The only issue I had with Prince Lestat is that it wasn’t long enough!  At 460 pages, the story felt a bit rushed toward the end, but this might be due to the numerous characters that show up to move the story along.  The book could have been a thousand pages and still felt rushed.  I wanted to hear more from the other characters to learn about where they have been over the years, but hopefully this will happen with future novels.  The world of Anne Rice’s vampires is ripe with possibility.

In an age where authors are granted movie rights before their novels hit bookstores, it’s refreshing that in spite of the eleven year gap since the last installment of The Vampire Chronicles, Lestat and his companions are back in even finer form, sporting their “flashing” silk ties, fine lace and velvet frock coats.  These details make Anne Rice novels what they are: modern literature at its finest.  I’m keenly aware that I’m reading an author whose writing will be considered a classic for generations to come.  Prince Lestat is a delightful read and will satisfy die-hard fans of The Vampire Chronicles and entice new blood to the fold.

 

Prince Lestat Entry 5: Home Stretch (Spoiler Free)

I have about 75 pages left of Prince Lestat  I’m deliberately pacing myself.  I am forcing myself not to peek and see which chapter is next.  I want to know what happens but I don’t want to reach the end of the book.

It’s quite the dilemma.

Like every Anne Rice book, Prince Lestat moves along like a fine piece of classical music, weaving in and out until the crescendo builds and the song-in this case, the story-comes to an end. The process can take a while.  The mythology must be built.  But I can sense that the end is in sight and it’s both satisfying and saddening.

Lestat is in fine form. Rest assured of that. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing friends from previous books popping up. Prince Lestat could be a thousand pages and I don’t think it would feel long enough.

But the end is in sight.  My next post will most likely be my review (still spoiler free, of course).

Prince Lestat: Entry 4 (Spoiler Free)

I’m almost to page 300 in Prince Lestat. I could have easily finished the entire book yesterday when it was released, but I’m savoring every bit of it.

This evening I met with one of my students who told me about a project she has for her English class.  It’s a mythology project where she must study a culture and their myths.  This got me thinking.

So much of Anne Rice’s writing revolves around myths. I don’t speak of vampire mythology or lore, because she created her own world.  I speak of the mythology created every time one of the characters shares his or her story.  The history is so rich.

When people critique her work, it is often because they find Anne Rice books to be too long, too flowery, too dense. What they don’t realize, and certain can’t appreciate, is that she is creating a mythology of her own.  She isn’t creating some transient backdrop so she can insert her characters. She not only gives life to her characters, but the settings themselves become characters. Take New Orleans, for example.  The city is now synonymous with Anne Rice.  The flat on the Rue Royal is as famous as Lestat and Louis.  Anne Rice creates new worlds in her writing.

I’m happy to report, given this digression on mythology, that I am winding through Prince Lestat and stopping to appreciate the mythology along the way. Prince Lestat is a gem when it comes to mythology.

Prince Lestat: Halfway Point (Entry 3. Still Spoiler Free)

I read Chapter 12 of Prince Lestat this morning.  I saw the words “flashing silk tie” and smiled at once because these are the descriptions I have come to know and love in every Anne Rice book I have ever read.

I became a history major largely due to her writing.  To me, the vampires were secondary.  I was never a Goth. I liked the characters because I loved their rich stories. I love the idea of having a conversation with someone who witnessed the fall of Rome and who painted in Venice.  I fell in love with the city of New Orleans and was thrilled when, in 2011, I was able to travel there for a week and stay in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter…yes…I even learned French after studying Spanish, partly due to The Vampire Chronicles).  The idea of being around creatures who are literally living history books makes my fingers twitch because I love history and I’d be the equivalent of David going from vampire to vampire asking them to share their stories. (My fingers always twitch in those situations…it’s a reflection of my continual desire to read and write “stuff”. I’m a total nerd that way…)

So now I’m at the halfway point and I’m rearing to go.  I’m racing to the finish because I honestly don’t want to put the book down.  Prince Lestat has been worth the wait.  It’s everything I hoped it would be. (So far…you never know what can happen in 200 pages…)

Prince Lestat: The First Day (Entry 2; Spoiler Free)

At the end of Day One reading Prince Lestat, the newest installment of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, I am on page 207, chapter 12.

I wish I didn’t have to sleep. I want to keep reading…but I don’t want it to end too quickly.  This is the best book in the series.  Seeing old friends, and meeting new ones, is pure joy. I have the education (I majored in history, largely due to Anne Rice’s characters who are pulled out of time) and the maturity to understand the themes and grasp the symbolism that might have previously escaped me. Memnoch the Devil came out when I was 15. It was the first new book in The Vampire Chronicles to come out since I’d discovered the series.  I was still caught up in the world of The Tale of the Body Thief and I didn’t understand a lot of the religious and existential happenings until I attended a private Catholic university years later.  This book is very different from the others (so far). It’s a wonderful departure that is true to the mythologies Ms. Rice has created.

Anne Rice’s writing is incomparable.  Prince Lestat serves as a reminder of quality and not quantity.  Each book has been meticulously researched, every detail cross referenced.  She isn’t turning out books yearly, and the quality of this book demonstrates that.

I am almost halfway through Prince Lestat. I really don’t want it to end.  But I promise to keep posting during this journey, and please share your thoughts with me about the book.  I’m eager to hear what others have to say.  I will post my own review here when I’m done.

Prince Lestat: Cracking the Spine (Entry 1)

At long last, Anne Rice’s newest installment of The Vampire Chronicles has arrived.  Prince Lestat hit stores today.  I was at Barnes and Noble at 10am sharp and I had my copy in hand at 10:02.

The last time a book in The Vampire Chronicles was released was back in 2003.  I was 23 years old, and my life was very different than it is now.When I consider that I first read Interview with a Vampire when I was 14 (in 1994), it makes me see how much has happened in the past 20 years.  I grew up with Anne Rice books, though most of the symbolism came to me years after reading the books.  I’m glad to be reading with the perpective of time under my belt.

It’s fitting, then, that we celebrate the release of Prince Lestat.

Reading an Anne Rice book is to take a journey with old friends.  I’ve read critiques of her books from new readers who have turned to The Vampire Chronicles as the vampire rage has hit new peaks. Some of these critiques complain about the verbose nature of the books.  I told the lady at the bookstore today that reading Anne Rice is like having a thick smoothie when you’re used to drinking water.  This is due, in part, to the details that Anne Rice is famous for.  They’re never just curtains; they’re velvet curtains.  Armand never wears lace; it’s Versailles lace.  You have to understand that this is why it’s great literature.

So my plan is to post blog entries about the experience of reading Prince Lestat as I go through it.  I will never post spoilers.  My full review will follow as soon as I’m done with the book, and you’ll be able to read it here and at http://www.darkmediaonline.com.

Are you about to take this journey into Prince Lestat with me?  Please leave your comments below!

Prince Lestat Arrives Today!

At long last, Anne Rice’s newest installment of The Vampire Chronicles arrives in bookstores today.

I am forgoing buying it on my Nook in favor of a hard copy so that I can add it to my collection.

Be sure to check back for my review in a few days.  If you’re reading Prince Lestat, be sure to let me know what you think of it!!

Throwback Book Review: Anne Rice’s “The Wolf Gift”

I originally wrote this review for http://www.DarkMedia.com a few years ago.  I thought it would be fun to share it here on my blog as well. 🙂

The Wolf Gift

Genre: Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Alfred A. Knoph

Publication Date: February 14, 2012

Author: Anne Rice

Overall Review: 5/5-Excellent

Review by: Sarabeth Pollock

 

A Return….

In 1994 I stumbled across a mass market copy of Interview with the Vampire in a country store during a family vacation.  Though I was fourteen, I immediately fell in love with the lush prose and the vivid characters that came to life in the novel.  After the first few pages I was transported into a world where vampires came to life; the story was as consuming as the humidity of a hot New Orleans evening—which is to say inescapable.  I have been an Anne Rice fan ever since, becoming enmeshed with the stories of vampires, witches, ghosts, and even mummies.

2005 saw Rice’s departure from the supernatural with the publication of Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.  Year later, through the miracle of Twitter (ironically, given the prevalence of social media in The Wolf Gift), I discovered that Anne Rice was returning to the world of the supernatural with a new book about werewolves, called The Wolf Gift.

I am pleased to tell you that Anne Rice has returned to the world of the supernatural with a thrilling tour de force!

 

The Story….

Reuben Golding is a youthful reporter for the San Francisco Observer, on assignment to write about an enchanting mansion situated on a cliff in Mendocino.  We meet the alluring owner of the house, Marchent Nideck, who looks to sell the house after the estate of her great uncle Felix Nideck has been settled.  Felix Nideck has at last been declared dead after his mysterious disappearance years earlier, and Marchent is eager to sell the house and return to her life abroad.  She hopes that Reuben’s article in the Observer can spark interest in the house and quickly attract a buyer.

Reuben is the youngest son born to a surgeon mother and college professor father.  His older brother is a priest and his girlfriend is a high-power, high-energy district attorney.  They all have nicknames for him that continually remind him of his youth: he is “Sunshine Boy” to his girlfriend and “Little Boy” to his brother Jim.  Reuben is an aspiring writer, and a dreamer, who would be content to buy the house, which he refers to as Nideck Point, even though he knows that his family (with exception of his father) would never approve of such a frivolous purchase.   

It isn’t long before Reuben convinces himself that he must buy Nideck Point, for he has fallen hopelessly in love with the house, and, unexpectedly, he has fallen in love with Marchent.   He follows Marchent like the proverbial kid in a candy store as she takes him from room to room, sharing her late great-uncle’s treasures with Reuben.  In the library they come across a massive portrait of six men hanging above the mantel.  They are dressed in safari khaki and they are in a jungle and they have interesting names like Margon and Sergei and Frank Vandover.  Margon, also known and Margon the Godless, was Felix Nideck’s closest friend as well as his mentor, and though these men were all incredibly close, Marchent has been unable to reach them after her great-uncle’s disappearance.

It isn’t long before the tranquility of Nideck Point is shattered in the middle of the night by an attack, at first at the hands of mortal men with jealousy and revenge on their minds, and then by…something else.  It is at that point that Reuben receives the Wolf Gift.

 

My Thoughts….

The most compelling aspect of this novel is that the story is oddly plausible.  Whereas Interview with the Vampire vacillated between past and present, The Wolf Gift is firmly rooted in the present, with all of the technology and media and ethical dilemmas that come with life in 2012.  Reuben, like most twenty-three year olds in the twenty-first century, is in love with his iPhone.  He uses it to chronicle his transformation from man to wolf.  Once reports of the mysterious “Man Wolf” start to circulate, people all over the world flock to social media sites to create fan pages and dedicate songs on You Tube to him.  Reuben uses his newfound powers and abilities to help people in need, and though one can raise scores of ethical issues about his methods, Reuben clearly acts with good intentions.  The Man Wolf, rather than be feared by the media-hungry public, becomes something of a hero to scores of people who believe that he is trying to do good in a world where it is easy to lose hope.

Another interesting aspect of the story is that Reuben shares his lupine dilemma with other people.  He confesses his secret to his brother Jim, and he confides in Laura, the woman who accepts both his human and wolfish selves with love and compassion.  This is a departure from other Anne Rice novels, where characters went to great lengths to conceal their true nature from the mortals around them.  (ASIDE:  Lestat’s quest to become a rock star in the 1980s could be interpreted as an attempt to reveal his true vampiric nature to ultimately allow him to live in the open, but even he conceded that mortals didn’t really believe he was a vampire.)   

One of the most refreshing aspects of Reuben Golding’s character is that he doesn’t hate himself or the creature he has become.  Once he understands the Wolf Gift, he cherishes it.  He embraces it and comes to see the wolf as part of his identity.  As an intellectual young man raised in a family that taught him to seek knowledge and ask questions, Reuben wants to understand what he has become so that he can use the gift to its full potential.  Of course he makes some mistakes along the way, but these mistakes make Reuben’s character all the more real, for he is a man stumbling through this transformation alone.

I enjoyed how Rice allows the reader to experience Reuben’s transformation with him.  Her imagery makes it easy to imagine what it must feel like to shed one’s human form and become a Man Wolf.  The novel moves quickly through his discoveries and his adventures as a werewolf, but it does get bogged down with mythology toward the end as the story races to its conclusion.  I’m not sure that this is detrimental to the story, however, as the mythology is essential in establishing and understanding the new world of werewolves, or Morphenkinder, that has been created.  Avid Anne Rice fans are well-versed in the history of her vampires and witches after eighteen books, so it is fair to say that this novel serves as an origin story and couldn’t be told without the mythology.

Anne Rice fans new and old will enjoy The Wolf Gift, and given the increasingly energized interest in werewolves thanks to shows like SyFy’s Being Human and films in The Twilight Saga, new readers will appreciate a fresh and modern take on werewolves.

First Encounters With Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles

Now that Universal has acquired the film rights to The Vampire Chronicles (see my earlier post for a link to more information), my excitement is growing with each new announcement.

A few days ago, Anne Rice asked fans on Facebook and Twitter when they first encountered Lestat.  It started me thinking.

I’ve talked about my history with The Vampire Chronicles. I saw Interview with the Vampire in the theater 20 years ago when I was 14, then a few weeks later I stumbled across a copy of the book.  I was hooked.  The film and the book are nothing alike.  While there are subtle similarities, there really is no comparison. 

But I certainly didn’t understand the complexities of the books or her writing until later on.  As every new book came out, I went back and read the earlier books to recall fine details, and with every reading came new observations.  And I also noticed that themes struck me in different ways at different points in my life.

I have read comments from other fans and I know I’m not alone in this.  But it is interesting to note.

The next step is to start imagining how Bob Orci (of the Star Trek reboot fame) will handle the books.  He is a fan (perhaps more so than Neil Jordan) and so his treatment promises to yield a very sympathetic take on the books that are beloved by so many.

So how did you first meet the Vampire Lestat and the world of Anne Rice? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!