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Interview With The Vampire

by

Anne Rice

Interview With The Vampire
average rating is 4 out of 5

Horror, Vampires, Supernatural

R. Alex Jenkins

Four stars and some mixed feelings, better explained as a list of pros and cons.


The Pros:


It's about nasty, bloodsucking, betraying 🧛 vampires.


The character development is exceptional and becomes the nourishing spine of the book. Period drama in all its glitz and finery is presented in minute detail, as vampires live in luxury and roam the streets with walking sticks and fine attires, living in exclusive dwellings with servants who mind their own businesses, the rest of the world being effectively bribed to keep away, allowing nightly manhunts and murder to take place.


The intense relationship between Louis and Claudia, the child vampire, is intense, strangely exquisite, erotic and beyond borderline acceptable, including kisses, embraces, holding of hands and waists, more reminiscent of a married couple than a father-daughter relationship, and some people may have a problem with this overtly pseudo-paedo companionship as too close to child abuse for comfort, but this is a skill that Anne Rice is very good at - making us uncomfortable at getting too close. Any notion of sex between vampire and child - even some nipple sucking by Lestat - is firmly in the mind of the reader and not something that actually happens because vampires are NOT sexually active with each other! They crave blood and the feelings imbibed through drinking it, not sexual satiation or penetration - humans do that. Anything you believe differently is in your own mind. On top of that, Claudia is a mature woman who remains in the body of a child, stuck there for eternity.


The dynamic between Louis and Claudia is the heart of the book, even more so than with Lestat.


This book is atmospheric, slow and exceptionally descriptive in places, fast-paced and full of action in others. At best, it's a gripping read, and most of all, it’s very profound on the meaning of life and mortality/immortality.


The Cons:


Anne Rice is often awful at stringing together logistics and plausibility. She is so busy describing emotions such as love, jealousy and resentment, she forgets to explain and justify basic details such as how bodies are piled up and disposed of every night, and who washes out the blood - the bribed servants maybe?


The book subtly reminds me of Moby Dick - and that's a compliment - as almost too bizarre to be taken seriously in places, trying so hard to bound along that it becomes unfeasible and implausible as you keep on asking how, or why so many inconsistencies, why so much steamrolling over the plot? Unlike Moby Dick, which is also very scientific and humorous, IWTV becomes cloying in places and could be a DNF experience for less determined or younger readers.


It does attempt to justify mass-nightly murder in later stages, for example, explaining that vampires don't necessarily kill their victims, who instead get mysteriously unwell, weak and lifeless from sources unknown, but vampires roaming around New Orleans or Paris society for centuries going unchecked is way too much. If a farmer misses a cow, he'll question it and pursue answers, so what about hundreds of murdered humans per vampire per year, which is not a blight on our basic concept of vampires as acceptable myth, including crosses, death by sunlight and garlic breath that’s been going on since Carmilla and Dracula as part of our wonderful modern preternatural literary canon. No, it's about the far-fetched aspect of this novel and how it fails to explain basic whys and wherefores, becoming almost throwaway in places.


And then there’s the tendency to indulge too much and therefore become a plod.


Summary:


Overall, I struggled with the narrative and plot holes - or rather the lack of consistent plot - and the constant logistical implausibilities, but I greatly enjoyed the characters and the terrific rendition of historical high society. I also found Louis, a very likeable, dear and decent chap (for a vampire) somehow caught up in all the madness without really wanting to be there, merely acting on instinct and nature.


The book does a great job of reminding us why vampires behave as ruthlessly as they do, because they were once human and have since adapted to immortality with endless killing, necessary just to survive, which isn't all that great if you're stuck in the same perpetual nightly cycle for hundreds of years, probably with the same group of people that can get on your nerves.


Strangely, the beauty of life is ultimately expressed through killing and subsequent death, and vampires sense our mortal desire to briefly shine brightly to exhilarating levels, especially in the young and beautiful.


I don’t absolutely love this book because it's too indulgent and emotionally morose for its own good, and it maybe won't excite younger readers enough. Dracula is a better book anyhow, but four stars nonetheless for what it means to profound vampire literature. Has any similar novel so fully explored vampire emotions, jealousies and relationships to this level, in a vivid world across multiple continents?


At its best, IWTV is profound at discussing the meaning of life versus the pitfalls of immortality.

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