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on February 24, 2007
Anne Rice revamped the vampire-horror genre with the publication of "Interview with the Vampire," a supernational drama from the vampire's own mouth. It became an unexpected hit, and spawned a series of sequels that came to be known as the Vampire Chronicles. The first three books of the series are compiled here, and arguably remain her best.
"Interview With the Vampire" is the story of Louis, a grieving young widower and plantation owner, whose life is turned upside down when he meets the charming vampire Lestat. Lestat offers him a way out: become a vampire. Louis accepts, but once it's done, he finds that vampirism is more than he bargained for -- especially for his conscience.
"The Vampire Lestat" takes a totally different tack, showing us the world through the enigmatic, charming Lestat's eyes. After years of dormancy, Lestat wakes up in time for the early MTV years of the 1980s, becoming a rock star in the tradition of Ozzy and Black Sabbath. And like Louis, Lestat relates his long life's story -- how he became a vampire, his wanderings over the earth, and his investigations into the origins of vampirism itself...
"Queen of the Damned" builds on that research. Lestat's metal music has caused quite a bit of mayhem -- but not this much before: Akasha, Egyptian queen and mother of all vampires, has reawoken from her comalike sleep. The lesser vampires are having strange dreams, some are being murdered by the ruthless queen. Apparently she wants to kill virtually all men. What is more, Akasha has taken a shine to the roguish Lestat himself...
Vampiric autobiography is a given in Anne Rice's bibliography -- she has plenty of bloodsuckers telling us about their lives. But Lestat and Louis's were not just the first ones, but perhaps the most compelling and rich, especially since the two had such radically different viewpoints -- including of one another. Is Lestat a heartless fiend, or a roguish good-craving bad boy? I'd lean towards the latter, to be honest.
The first two books are quite personal -- one is Louis recounting his own miserable life and un-life. Then we get Lestat, a radically different viewpoint, a guy who enjoys his un-life even more than his mortal existance. Finally, there's an epic view of all vampires, throughout history, from the ancient Egyptian queen to the modern biker vamps.
Despite the more controversial recent novels, Anne Rice's first Vampire Chronicles are often reckoned to be modern horror classics. Rich, intriguing and far deeper than you'd think vampire fiction would be.