This is actually a re-read for me. I first read this book more than 20 years ago in preparation to the movie coming out. There’s a new(er) book out now and since it’s been so long since I last read anything in the series, I’m going back and reading them all again! I had nearly forgotten how great this book actually is…
I think that Anne Rice is probably one of the reasons that we have such a love affair with all things vampire. You can’t help but fall in love with these damned souls. Louis, the narrator of this story, is a vampire who never seemed to lose his mortal conscience. He struggles to accept this “dark gift” that he’s been given. He still feels too much, empathizes too much with the mortal life that he left behind and the lives of those he still cares for. He was a plantation owner who had given up on life after the death of his brother and has become distanced from his mother and sister. He is alone in the world and has stopped caring whether he lives or dies, in many ways he’s just waiting for death to come for him.
In walks Lestat, beautiful and mesmerizing. He is both commanding and demanding. He finds Louis when he is at his most low, his most desperate and makes him an offer that he simply can’t refuse. He offers Louis his dark gift and Louis becomes his companion in immortality. But from the beginning you feel the tension between them. Lestat only cares about himself and he wanted Louis for what Louis could do for him. He wanted money, a home, security. He wanted to be able to be in luxury and safe to hunt and hide. Louis wants to know everything, wants to feel everything, his empathy is still intact. He wants to know about those who came before him, who made them what they are? He’s full of questions and continually pesters Lestat for answers. Answers that Lestat either cannot or will not give him. Just as Louis is ready to leave Lestat to find those answers, Lestat has other ideas. Claudia comes into being, the monster that never should have been. The link that holds Louis and keeps him with his maker, the father of lies. For now.
The story covers about 200 years of Louis’ life both before and after he was given his immortal gift. You are taken from New Orleans to Germany to Paris and back again. You join Louis on his quest to find his answers. Along the way you begin to have a better understanding of who Louis, Lestat and Claudia are and what drives them, what makes them unique in their immortal world. Which one of them has the stamina for immortality? Could you face every day for hundreds of years and watch the world change while you stay the same? Are you evil? What is evil and what is good? This quest for answers is what drives Louis and shapes him into the immortal that he becomes and ultimately shapes his relationships with those around him.
The author delves into some pretty heavy topics that really make you do a lot of thinking and considering and even some examining of your own conscience. You find yourself being empathetic to these creatures, against your better judgment. You find yourself being mesmerized by their beauty, their coldness. But even in their beauty, you can see their danger. But you are still drawn to them, like a moth to a flame. It doesn’t matter that they are predators. It doesn’t matter that you are nothing more than food to them. Who can sit by and listen to Louis’ story and not want to become his companion for the next few centuries?