Anne Rice took the publishing world by storm in "Interview With the Vampire," a haunting book that turned the evil-bloodsucker cliche on its ear. Her lush prose and vivid characters turn the dramatic plot and strange scenarios into a chilling look at good and evil, thankfully without melodrama.
In modern times, a young man is interviewing a vampire on tape recorder. The vampire is Louis Pointe du Lac. In 1791, his ultra-religious brother died tragically after an argument, and Louis sank into remorse and despair. Enter Lestat de Lioncourt, a charming vampire who offers Louis a way out of his grief.
The two vampires wander the cities of the world, with Lestat teaching his reluctant pupil the ways of vampirism. In time Louis makes a "daughter": Claudia, a vampire child with the mind of a woman. Now, depressed and unhappy, Louis explains how he and Claudia fled Lestat, only to encounter new tragedies that still haunt him to this day...
Moral struggles are rarely present in vampire novels. Certainly not from the vampire's point of view. But that is exactly what Anne Rice attempts in this book. She wraps her dark story in lush prose and beautiful descriptions of Paris and her hometown of New Orleans, making this one of the best-written vampire stories since "Dracula."
No gore and grit here. Rice's writing is exceptionally beautiful, full of lush descriptions and intricate detail. Best of all, it has that rare quality of atmosphere -- no matter how enchanting the vampire, or beautiful the setting, a feeling of darkness and sorrow runs through it.
Rice also dips into one of the best examples of literary vampirism ever: Louis becomes a vampire out of his grief, but once the grief fades, he is left with the soul of a human, and the bloodthirst of a vampire -- things that can't be reconciled. They just can't fit together. His longing to remain as human as possible, in defiance of his curse, is a tragic twist in a dark storyline.
Louis is a bit of a whiner, but a deeper look reveals why. He struggles with morality and beliefs that -- unlike Lestat -- he never really let go of. Because he is a vampire, he is by his very nature a killer, yet the idea of murder is repulsive to him. Lestat is utterly charming and incredibly engaging, despite his amoral behavior. It's not hard to see why Louis would be drawn in by such an enchanting person, no matter how bad he is.
One of the greatest shaping influences on elegant vampire lore has been Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire." A beautiful and lush novel of darkness and beauty.