“I see…” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.
Despite Dracula being the quintessential vampire novel in my opinion (I have studied, read, reread and loved it for so long!) there is one other novel that is often held up as Stoker’s second-in-command in terms of vampiric influence, making waves in the world of popular fiction in the 90s.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire uses the central narrative premise of an interview to open up a darker world and allow readers, for the first time, to experience the vampire’s perspective and delve into the psychology of the undead – turning the terrifyingly scary into the strangely sympathetic.
But fear not! This is no shiny, depressingly brooding vampire book as Rice wisely chooses to stick to tradition, with blood and violence aplenty! From eighteenth-century New Orleans to Paris and back again, Rice creates not just atmospheric scenery but characterful settings. I found the depiction of the Théâtre des Vampires in Paris particularly (and imaginatively) harrowing, where humans unknowingly witness the bloodsucking murder of one of their own believing it to be a dramatic theatrical stage show.
Rice’s characterisations are also well realised and distinct, a fact not easily met when the story is told from the first person perspective. The child-vamp Claudia is a particularly complex and interesting character, especially as she becomes more worldly-wise and emotionally demanding beyond her external appearance.
However interesting it was to see the world through the eyes of Louis, experiencing kills and thrills from a first person perspective, I found Rice’s writing style far too forceably poetic to grip my attention for any lengthy period of time. Following the 200-year life of a vampire who was turned in the 1790s forced an unnaturally old-fashioned narrative style that sat uncomfortably in the reading. The erotic undertones between Louis and Lestat, Louis and Claudia and, finally, Louis and Armand are far from covertly written but their designed impact to shock and unsettle is significantly lessened by the narrative voice which stifles the translation from page to imagination.
The characters within Interview with the Vampire have spawned 11 sequel titles and whist they do indeed stand as excellently rounded “metaphors for lost souls” (as described by Rice) I shall be leaving her Vampire Chronicles to better fans than I.