Blood Canticle: The Vampire Chronicles 10 Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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"The chronicles are hard to put down because they are like old friends" (Times Literary Supplement)
The 10th novel in Anne Rice's internationally bestselling Vampire Chronicles is an erotic tale of immortal loveSee all Product description
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The book actually starts with Lestat's fantasy about being a saint. Yes, Lestat now fantasizes about being like Saint Juan Diego and chatting with the Pope. This comes out of nowhere, and is merely an opportunity for Rice to tell us that we're all stupid shallow ingrates for not liking "Memnoch the Devil."
Then we switch off to where "Blackwood Farm" ended. The dying Mona Mayfair has come to Blackwood Farm to expire, but Lestat decides to make her into a vampire because.... well, otherwise Quinn will be sad. But while she's transforming, Rowan Mayfair arrives to pick up her young cousin and Lestat has to keep her from finding out what he's done. Also, Rowan and Lestat fall in love. Seriously.
Lestat takes the two younger vampires under his wing, and shows the newly powerful Mona how to maneuver the world as a vampire. But her new life also revives Mona's interest in her old one -- specifically in the Taltos child she bore some years before, which triggered the disease that almost killed her. So the trio sets out to find out if the Taltos are still around.
I'll be frank: "Blood Canticle" reads like fanfiction. Lestat falling in True Love with Rowan Mayfair? Lestat playing vampire dad to teen vampire lovers? Lestat's obsession with sainthood? Lestat having a midlife crisis (judging from his slang)? A thriller-like expedition to find the Taltos? This whole disaster sounds like a C-grade Vampire Chronicles fanfic!
Sadly, not even Rice's trademark lush, atmospheric writing can save this hokey mess of a plot -- her prose seems limp and colorless, like a stalk of wilting celery. She also seems to be trying to wrap the whole mess up as quickly as possible, since it's basically about Lestat being told where the Taltos are and a quick trip there. It seems like she's utterly tired of the Vampire Chronicles and just wants it over and done with.
She also seems to want the vampires themselves over and done with. Pretty much no beloved character except Lestat appear -- Maharet only communicates via email, Louis and Marius are only mentioned, and Rowan appears just so she can fall in Twilight-like instant love with Lestat. The only vampires who appear other than Lestat are... well, Quinn and Mona. Whee. So happy.
And Lestat does not resemble the wild, brilliant, charming vampire that appeared in the previous books. This guy seems more like a middle-aged rich guy who's having a midlife crisis -- using slang, hanging out with the "kids," getting a crush on a random woman, getting befuddled by technology, and so on.
"Blood Canticle" is a sad, shameful ending for what was once a wonderful (or at least decent) vampire series -- a damp, sputtering creature that drifts away from its own lack of substance. Just finish the series at "Queen of the Damned."
* The plot. While there is some semblance of a plot in this novel, it's not really good enough to warrant a novel being written about it. Lestat is back, he has new vampire minions (who happen to be huge brats, and not in the way that Lestat was once called a brat by Marius), and the Mayfair family have brought their Taltos problems into the Vampire Chronicles. So what?
* The characters. Quinn was bearable. I read Blackwood Farm and didn't hate it completely, even though the Mayfairs were a part of it. And I even thought Mona was okay in the Mayfair series. But in this...Quinn and Mona turn into spoilt children. Mona becomes a shrieking, crying, spoilt brat, and Quinn will do anything she says. Not only that, but Lestat is virtually unrecognisable. He's turned to religion (much like Anne Rice herself) and wants to be a saint. He wants to be good. This is not Lestat. I loved Lestat as a character because of the arrogance, the good at being bad, the underneath-it-all I'm a good guy kind of thing, you know? Lestat wasn't perfect. He was a vampire, but we learnt to love him and sympathise with him. Now he wants to be human again. He wants to be a saint.
* The closure. I ask here: what closure? This is not closure. Not only does it make a mockery of all the previous vampire chronicles, but it makes a mockery of the Mayfair Trilogy as well. Tying two of your beloved series together to make a quick ending for them both is not a good idea. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and bought the book anyway. I was wrong. It's not closure even in the smallest sense of the word. Where are the rest of the vampires we've come to love? Louis, Armand, Marius, Pandora, Maharet, David... What happened to Louis and David after the events of Blackwood Farm? Did Armand and Marius remain friends after the events at the end of The Vampire Armand? Do Marius and Pandora remain together after Blood & Gold? What happened to Thorne and Maharet and Mekare? None of these questions are answered. Not a single one. Not only that, but I personally thought that the Mayfair Trilogy worked well as it was, and didn't need loose ends tying up. We didn't need to know the whole tragic ending of the Taltos that got away. We didn't need to know that Rowan was tired and disillusioned and unhappy with her life (and love). It had a sort of happy ending in Taltos, and now we are left with a tragic one (in every sense of the word).
So, if you were to ask me whether I would recommend the book or not, I would have to say "NO!" Read Blackwood Farm if you really must, but just leave Blood Canticle alone. It doesn't have a plot, the characters are butchered, it DID need some serious editing (despite what Ms Rice says to the contrary, every author should have an editor - constructive cricitism helps even the most genius authors), and it did not offer closure.
End of story.
The characterisation of Lestat is truly bizarre. I mean, really, really bizarre. At times it was hard to read because I was thinking "this is just not Lestat!" He uses cheesy slang and was quite irritating, whilst the Lestat from earlier novels is cocky and occasionally obnoxious, but not annoying. I really think that Rice has lost touch with this character, and it would have been better for her to have had a different narrator altogether. In addition, I've never really understood why Rice presents Rowan Mayfair to be so interesting. Yes, she's a cold genius... But that's about it. I think we're meant to believe her to have lots of inner turmoil, but it isn't presented convincingly.
However, it gets more than 1 star because it does have some good points. It was nice to see the Taltos back again, as I enjoyed the Lasher novels, and the plot is fairly tight. Michael Mayfair as usual wins my sympathy, and Mona is more likeable now she's a vampire.
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