About two weeks ago I was laying down watching television, when I saw that Queen of the Damned was on the SyFy channel. I only watched a little of it, but it got me thinking. It’s been awhile since I’ve read any Anne Rice. I used to love her books when I was in high school, and it seemed like the movies adapted from her books have been on television a lot lately. When I looked on the Barnes and Noble store online I saw that the first three books in her Vampire Chronicles series was packaged together, and decided to buy them.
Part of the reason I wanted to re-read them was because they reminded me of my youth. Not that I’m old, mind you, but I just thought it’d be interesting to see if my feelings towards the novels have changed. The other reason I wanted to get back into the series is that I discovered I had never read them all. Apparently Anne Rice didn’t stop writing them just because I stopped reading them.
The first book in the series is Interview with the Vampire. If you never read the book, you may remember the movie starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Kirsten Dundst. Originally published in 1976, Interview with the Vampire tells the story of Louis, a vampire who feels compelled to tell his life story to a young journalist. From his early days being a young plantation owner in New Orleans, to his transition into a vampire, Louis talks about his struggle with his humanity through the centuries.
This novel is important because it is the ancestor to all current vampire novels, film, and television today. Before Anne Rice, vampires were something to be feared, and often appeared grotesque. Rice was the first author to not only make them seem attractive, but human. In Louis, we have the tortured vampire who struggles to hang on to his humanity, while grappling with the monstrous circumstances of his life. This character has spawned such popular characters like Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel), Mick St. John (Moonlight), Stefan Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries), and Edward Cullen (Twilight).
Louis isn’t the only memorable character from Interview with the Vampire. Many may arguable say that the vampire Lestat is even more popular. Lestat is Louis’ maker, and the template on which every other ‘Bad Boy’ vampire is now based.
Lestat initially comes across as a cruel monster that uses Louis for his money. By then end of the novel you discover that he is much more complicated. His ‘devil may care’ attitude is just a cover for his deep-rooted insecurities. Charming, yet brutal, Lestat is capable of drawing others to him, but his (seeming) lack of empathy tends to run them away. Companionship is the one thing he craves, yet too afraid of being hurt, he can’t seem to maintain it.
Where ever you look in modern vampire lore, the Lestat template can be seen. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Spike, The Vampire Diaries’ Damon Salvatore, and True Blood’s Eric Northman are all in Lestat’s debt. Thanks to Anne Rice’s ingenious idea to turn her villain into a hero, and back again when you least expect it, fans everywhere tend to root for the Bad Boy Vamp.
I could go on more, because Interview with the Vampire is chock full of colorful characters, but I won’t. Why don’t you take my word for it and read it yourself? Don’t be put off by how campy the movies seem, this book is a classic. Now that I’m finished with book one, I’m on to book two – The Vampire Lestat. I’ll have to admit that when I was younger Louis was my favorite character, but now I’m not so sure. If you are an Anne Rice fan, who’s yours?