Interview With The Vampire
Published 1976 368 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
Summary (from the book jacket)
In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life…the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.
There have been plenty of novels written about vampires. From Bram Stoker, who authored Dracula, one of the first great classics, to Anne Rice who wrote for more modern readers of the vampire myth. Interview with the Vampire is the first of Rice’s acclaimed Vampire Chronicles; it is Louis who tells of his life to one young man who was looking for the opportunity to write about one man's rich and strange life story. Louis the vampire in this tale is not as cruel or dark as the reporter first thinks; Louis has the capacity of great compassion and understanding of the darkness of the soul better than most men, even though he is immortal.
Haunted by his brother's death, of wanting to sell the family plantation in New Orleans, Louis finally decides to let someone kill him whether it is by a sailor or a thief, he did not care, he just wanted to die from the shame that he never believed his brother was visited by angels. In his despair Louis's plea is answered by a vampire, one Lestat who he thinks leaves him for dead. What follows is a chilling account of his nursing back to health, and his new life as a vampire, one of the undead who are doomed to walk the earth, damned and beautiful as well as timeless.
When Anne Rice wrote this she was going through a difficult period in her life, and understandably this first novel in a series was born out of that unhappy period. Her characters Louis and Lestat have been a legendary since the first novel was published and the book became a worldwide bestseller.
Lestat is the cruel and predatory vampire who decides to make Louis, a hopelessly unhappy man, like him, an immortal, capable of living a very unconventional life even though he explains the need that vampires have for being solitary creatures by their very nature, and if Louis went looking for others of his kind, he would only find death, as they would happily feed on him without fear or remorse. Lestat at the time is one less concerned with human life, morals and conduct with other vampires. Louis, from only just being made a vampire still has feelings and deep seated connections with mortals - he understands them just from having been one, and decides it is against his own moral code to kill a human whether male or female for his own blood thirst.
Louis’ indulgence in rats irritates Lestat, as he sees him as a coward, ignoring his new vampire urges. His bringing two loose women to their apartment to feed on is one of Lestat's attempts to make Louis realize who he is - and as they are beautiful women they might fulfil his sexual desires at the same time, but Louis has such a strong will when it comes to his moral code of ethics. He does not forget who he once was, while Lestat has been a vampire for a much longer time period and only knows his instincts as a vampire, totally rejecting his former human lineage, condemning it as being weak and ineffective. As a vampire he has strength, vision and cunning on his side, so Louis's need to keep the human part of him annoys and at times infuriates him, and it would be easy to wonder if his irritation is due to his purposely forgetting his human roots.
The introduction of Claudia, the girl Louis finds on his trail of the plague ridden streets makes Louis change his mind as she is so beautiful, young and desperate in her current situation, he knows she will die from the plague, and with his morals intact, he does what he considers the right thing to change her into a vampire. What he does not take into consideration is he has caused a great deal of trouble in making her one of the undead, and has not thought of her feelings in the matter. Other than that Louis has unwittingly made the three of them into a makeshift family of vampires that roam and feed on others. Some have even suggested that the two are both gay men due to Lestat's obvious bisexual leanings in the novel.
One aspect of Louis making Claudia a vampire is he obeys the command given to him by Lestat in order to give her life, and in some ways the reader will think he has a sense of belonging, as it was Lestat who wanted to have his own family to share his life with, totally contradicting his earlier thoughts of not wanting to have other vampires around. His need is also at a cost of Claudia who didn't want to be made a vampire in the first place. Louis feels her pain later in the novel, as she knows she can never grow any older than she is, and that knowledge eats at her mind, also her wanting to know who made her a vampire hurts Louis deeply as he feels he has done her a great wrong even though he loves her as if she were his only child.
In between the whole novel, the boy who records the entire interview on tape is filled with great fascination for what vampires really are and finding out what Louis tells him is an invaluable insight into the species. His sense of wonder only makes him yearn to become one of the undead even though Louis views it as a curse put on him by Lestat all those years ago.
For many, this first novel has remained a cult classic and has given rise to the vampire genre, and Rice who has spanned a next generation of authors who have written about it in great detail.
LoveVampires Review Rating: