Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Interview With The Vampire

by Anne Rice


Louis is not a conventional vampire by any means, if such a thing exists in popular imagination. As he recounts the story of his life to a nervous young reporter it emerges that he's a sensitive person with a horror of death, quite unlike the vicious creatures of most vampire legends. Raised a Catholic in the late eighteenth century, this is the story of how he became one of the undead, and his life during the centuries that followed.

Anne Rice has adapted the vampire mythology to suit her own purposes, so whilst Louis can get by on the blood of animals, it's only human blood that he craves, and especially the blood of innocents. Sunlight is deadly to most vampires, so some of the traditions of sleeping in coffins and living nocturnally are preserved. But Rice's vampires are cultured, sophisticated, and sensual creatures, preternaturally strong and agile. They appear to lead lives of hedonism and to possess traits that most of us would envy, although they tend to be filled with self-loathing. Louis, more than most, feels damned by his condition.

Interview With The Vampire takes place against a backdrop of almost a couple of hundred years of history, from the slave-worked plantations of Louisiana to nineteenth century Vienna and Paris. But historical events stay firmly in the background as the reclusive vampires focus mostly on themselves and their own affairs. The wicked Lestat and the vampire child Claudia come to life with remarkable vigour, their personalities the perfect antidote to Louis' dour world view.

In Paris they encounter an entire theatre full of vampires, where they meet the enigmatic Armand. But though they are of the same kind, that doesn't mean that vampires will not turn against each other. On one level Interview With The Vampire is a horror story full of the macabre and strange. But on another it's a love story. When the only companions who don't change beyond recognition, and indeed the only people who are more than mere food, are other vampires, the loneliness of passing the years can drive them to acts of extreme jealousy and passion. They have strangely intense love-hate relationships with each other, intensified by the burden of immortality.

Rice turns the erotic nature of vampires on its head by making them unable to get it on. Yet this has the effect of making the book more sensual rather than less. In the subtle moments of togetherness, or the acts of hunting and killing human prey, the author conveys a deliberately suggestive ambiguity that imbues these scenes with all of the ardour of a romance.

Louis is by nature a tormented soul, and there's an impression that he would be that way whether or not he were cursed with immortality. This book is filled with discussions about the nature of evil, fear of death, God, and the problems of a life without end. Louis tends to worry endlessly about the meaning of it all, about love, his feelings of guilt, and so on. He's incredibly introspective, even a bit of a navel-gazer.Yet all of this doesn't detract from the pace of the plot, which brims with action and suspense in spite of the thoughtfulness of the main character.

This novel is as much about ourselves and our own fears about life and death as it is a tale of occult weirdness. Powerful characters, the toughest of philosophical and moral questions, and frenzied bursts of action make reading Interview With The Vampire a terrifying and compelling experience.

Book Details

Decade: 1970s

Categories: Books

    Male Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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