All pretenders to the throne stand aside, the true queen of the Vampire genre has returned.
In the eleven years since the last book in the Vampire Chronicles the world has seen a rise in teen friendly vampires who are pale, soap opera style imitations of the vampires found in Anne Rice’s work. Whilst not the complete soulless monsters of their earliest forefathers, Anne Rice’s vampires were the perfect balance of the macabre, tortured soul and protagonist to become the near perfect mix of vampire that a large audience loves to read about… myself included.
Whilst the Vampire Chronicles have always been a bit hit and miss for me, they are still what I consider to be the quintessential vampire stories. The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned especially are books that I have returned to time and again for their incredible writing and wonderful stories.
There were three questions in my mind that surrounded this book:
1 – Can Anne Rice still write an excellent Vampire story that do the characters we all love justice after such a long hiatus?
2 – Is there actually any more meaningful story to be told in the Vampire Chronicles?
3 – Will Anne Rice be able to come out of vampire retirement to show all of the wannabes who rose in her wake just who is boss?
The answer to all three is a resounding YES!
Anne Rice has not lost a step in her time away from these characters. All vampires are every bit the characters I knew and love from the old books; Lestat is still the wonderful mix of humorous brat and highly competent protagonist to carry a story and basically it was as though the years between the last book and this one never happened.
More than this I would go so far as to say that this book is not just a return to form but actually a step on from some of her earlier novels. As I said earlier I found her works to be rather hit and miss and mainly this is because the story in the Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned were so epic in scale that everything else was a little muted for me by comparison.
This novel deals once more with the core issues at the heart of this series, setting the stakes incredibly high and delivering on all levels. The most important part for me though is that this is a book of big changes and real risk.
So many long running series like to stick to the status quo in order to maintain a level of expectation. Whilst this works for three or four books, in my mind a long series needs to shake things up in order to breathe fresh life into the story.
This book does just this in my opinion. Anne Rice took a number of big risks that jump started this series and taken it leaps and bounds beyond where it had finished. Not everyone will agree with this conclusion as people tend to like things they are familiar with, but for this reader at least this is a series I can now be very excited in again.
Overall I am incredibly glad to see Anne Rice back in the game. Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Southern Vampire mysteries and any of the other vampire franchises that have risen to power over the last few years, both popularising and at the same time ruining this genre, can now hopefully either die away or raise their game now that Anne Rice is back in action.
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