Series: Vampire Chronicles #11
Published by Knopf on October 28th, 2014
The novel opens with the vampire world in crisis...vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned... Old vampires, roused from slumber in the earth are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco. As the novel moves from present-day New York and the West Coast to ancient Egypt, fourth century Carthage, 14th-century Rome, the Venice of the Renaissance, the worlds and beings of all the Vampire Chronicles—Louis de Pointe du Lac; the eternally young Armand, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet, Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true Child of the Millennia; along with all the other new seductive, supernatural creatures—come together in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel to ultimately rise up and seek out who—or what—the Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why...
And, at the book's center, the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw—the great hope of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat...
Before I review this book, here is my bias alert: Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are pivotal to my literary experience. They were a huge part of my adolescence and remain some of my favourite books I have ever read. Her characters are special to me in that nostalgic way that you can never let go of. On top of that, I was apprehensive about reviewing this book because I am aware of Anne Rice’s habit of being a badly behaving author. I really hate that fact. And because her books have been huge in my life and I am such a fan of her work, I would be crushed if that happened in my direction. So Anne Rice, on the very slightest of chances that you see this, I love you, please don’t crush me.
That being said, Prince Lestat was a disappointment, and even though I anticipated it would be, it was a bummer. It seemed that after separating from her vampires for so long, Anne Rice had lost touch with the essence that made her characters so compelling, and there wasn’t that much story to tell to fill the void that created. The plot was incredibly slow moving, and the first 2/3rds of the book was more of a ‘vampires: where are they now?’ while introducing a slough of new characters – most of which didn’t have much purpose other than to be present, or play music, or whine.
When we finally get around to the story, it turns out a spiritual voice has been invading the minds of vampires old enough to wield the Fire Gift, and inciting them to burn off covens of the younger vampires. As younger vampires are torched around the world in massive numbers, the voice grows stronger and gains more influence, and the oldest and most powerful vampires must now set aside their insistence on solitude to come together and deal with the threat of eradication.
The worst part of Prince Lestat, emotionally, was the elimination of certain characters that have pretty much been accepted as permanent and untouchable. Obviously these were characters I’ve developed strong feelings about over the years and the many books, and for them to have been killed by characters who have never been mentioned until this book was hard, shocking and upsetting.
Beyond these deaths, nothing about the book was shocking or particularly enlightening. I was hoping for more information on the vampires or their physiology, especially with the introduction of scientists studying the vampires, but in the end the source of the voice was something I’d figured out in the first 100 pages, and nothing was added to our knowledge that we didn’t have from the first 10 books. What’s more, while the remainder of the original characters became empty, hollow versions of what they had been before, Lestat has become ever more Mary-Sue. Obviously, he has always been the figurehead of the series and absorbed power well beyond what he should have, but this new development tipped over, and had me groaning in disappointment. I’m sorry, there are far better candidates and I have a hard time believing that some of the older vampires, so prone to reason and rationale, would be going along with silly plans so easily. Blah.
I would still say I liked this book because it reconnected me with characters I hold close in my heart, and re-inspired my love for what made them so special. Because it encourages me to re-read the series to capture the magic I felt with them initially, I guess it is a success, but still a disappointment in itself. If this was up to par with the rest of the books, it would be receiving nothing short of a rave! Alas, I just can’t give it one. It certainly doesn’t ruin the series for me but Prince Lestat doesn’t have the same feel or the same impact as the others. As much as I was overjoyed to hear a new Chronicle was coming out… maybe this is where it needs to bow out gracefully.