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on 5 June 2010
Not having read any reviews of this book it came as a splendid surprise to have some of the old characters back. David Talbot was always one of my favorites. To learn about his experience with magic and to have him introduce such a provocative and mystical witch was fascinating and quite a departure from the Rice that we know. She is no passive dabbler in mind-reading. Unlike the Mayfair Witches of First Street, the exotic Merrick is a priestess of ceremonial magic, a spirit conjurer of the highest order.

Although Rice departs from her usual vampiric adventures, delving more into Voodoo and witchcraft, she moves the story of her much beloved blood drinkers along seamlessly. If you are a fan of The Vampire Chronicles then you will be pleased by some of the revelations in this episode.

NOTE: It is unnecessary to have read The Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy to understand and appreciate this book. While many say that this is a union of the Rice's witches and her vampires is not entirely accurate. Only a single character from the First Street Mayfair bloodline is mentioned and only to make the most flimsy of connections. It would be a truer statement to say that this novel is a melding of Rice's vampires (read: characters) with the world of her witches (read: rules, physics, and powers).

However I do suggest you read this AND the witches trilogy before reading Blackwood Farm or Blood Canticle
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on 5 November 2001
I find this book to be a massive improvement on the turgid prose of its predecessors, The Vampire Armand and that attempted re-write of Dante's superior work, Memnoch the Devil. However, this book is by no means anywhere on a par with the first three novels in a previously compelling series.
Although Rice's prose has improved a little, the characterisation of Louis and Lestat is totally unforgivable. Louis, that dark, sensual vampire of "Interview With the Vampire" is terribly twisted now. His reasoning-- can there be redemption for a killer-- is discarded because he wants, like any teenager, 'to belong'. Ahh.
And Merrick, well, she drinks rum. And she's spiritually talented. She's clever and loved instantly by *every* character and despite the nasty trick she performs on Louis, is forgiven, because she's so lovable. That's characterisation so shallow that you can see the words on the other side of the page. Or, for the unitiated, it's what many writers call a 'Mary-Sue', a beautiful, amazing person based on the author with no faults whatsoever.
So, are there any strengths?
Well, yes, sort of. What I will say for this book is that, as someone who loves the sheer *feel* of New Orleans-- that mixture of heat and the occult and offbeat history-- it is beautifully portrayed in this book. For that reason alone, it merits the two stars.
I'm also annoyed at those who proclaim that if we don't like these drastic changes, we can lump it. What a silly suggestion-- the people who loved those first books and rushed out to buy them made Rice's career. I think we are right to expect a good adventure, or none at all. Because these new titles are a serious burden to Rice's credibility as a good author-- it is particuarly damaging to the classic "Interview With the Vampire."
In sum, if you don't care for canon, and like your characters changing out of all recognition, go ahead and buy it. If you don't care about the characters anyway, and want some beautiful descriptions of Louisiana, then, yes, buy it, because that is the strength of the novel. If, however, you're expecting a good read on the par with her earlier works, steer clear. You'll only feel cheated at the end.
Go and re-read Interview, or, spend your money on a groundbreaking new author, not a deteriorating one.
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on 2 November 2014
Anne Rice is a writer with whom I've spent a lot of time over the years. In my mid-teens, I read nothing but vampire fiction for six months. Novels by Ms. Rice became part of my staple diet. Since my period of gluttony, I've read few vampire stories, but thought that I would return to the genre. Picking up where I stopped, I found a copy of 'Merrick' and read it cover to cover.

At first, there was nothing to dissuade me. 'Merrick' is hardly an intimidating novel. Margins are wide, vocabulary is simple, and the dialogue is declarative. Regrettably, these became faults of the book. Ms. Rice writes little in the way of detail. It became difficult to conjure images in my mind with statements like: 'There was a mountain.'

Another problem with 'Merrick' is that Ms. Rice writes in a reminiscent style. Characters spend much of their time sitting with friends and recalling traumatic events. This would be fine for a single scene, but this technique dominates the novel. Overall, 'Merrick' loses any sense of narrative drive. Reading the book was like pushing a boulder up a hill.

In summary, I recommend Ms. Rice's earlier novels - especially 'Interview with a Vampire' - but give this one a miss.
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on 16 January 2003
This book was a breath of fresh air for the chronicles. Memnoch was, for me, a complete disappointment. Although i thoroughly enjoyed Pandora snd The Vampire Armand, they were not new, we already had a brief knowledge of their stories. So this story was a real come back for Ms Rice in my opinion.
The only disappointment i had, was that it was implied that Louis would be the central character. This is not the case. This is Merrick's story, she merely becomes involved in the chronicles because of Louis and their stoies become intertwined towards the end of the novel.
In this book Ms Rice has been very clever in introducing the Mayfair clan to us but telling us she shall not go into details about their story as it is a different story. Some clever self advertising as i immediatley wanted to read the stories of the Mayfair Witches after this.
A must for any fan of the chronicles!
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on 23 August 2013
Good points: the usual Anne Rice talent for atmosphere (especially historical or weird atmosphere); fast-paced adventure that can make for a real page-turner; fascinating knowledge of ancient cultures and magic rituals; good plot line and variety. Like others, I find the mixture of witches and vampires makes for a refreshing change.

Not so good: for me she tanks on romance and "love interest", veering into sentimentality that's just not believable - l suppose it appeals to some but not to me (imo her treatment of gay attachments tends to be more credible); in this novel the transformation of the title character in Eliza Doolittle fashion by the Talamasca is cliche verging on the risible. It may appeal to those identifying with her of a narcissistic bent. From impoverished, neglected waif to brilliant scholar of "perfect Greek" and ability to speak conversational Latin in 4 years? but not without weaknesses such as a liking for the bottle (no goody-two-shoes she!) come on, Anne: in your dreams.

The original quest of Louis for Claudia also gets lost in the jungle before re-emerging towards the end almost as an after-thought. And then.....after all that, it seems to lead to a dead end as far as Louis and Claudia go. But still, an engrossing read; her pluses far outweigh her minuses for those on the same, offbeat wavelength.
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on 16 August 2003
Merrick is one of the vampire chronicles that stands on its own.
the atmosphere was different.
It caught the spirit of Louis at its best, poor Louis still feeling the loss of Claudia, he needs Merrick to work her black southern magic and invoke her spirit, he needs Lestat to convice her but will he be able to? will love blossom, will Louis survive to feed another night?
Too many questions, read the book and all will be answered.
This is one of the best of the chronicles.
Looking forward to Blood Canticle what will that hold for us.
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on 11 February 2002
This book felt quite different from the other Anne Rice that I've read. I have read only the Vampire Chronicles, and this had a darkness underlying it that many of the Vampire Chronicles lack. The beauty of this book, like all of Anne Rice's works is in its vibrancy and mystery - they introduced to me a view of the Christian religion quite different from any I have ever encountered. A view, as it were, from the inside. Merrick is a truly pagan being, a Catholic witch who wields a darker and more dangerous power than any other of Anne Rice's creations in her submerged alter ego, Honey in the Sunshine. it had all Rice's qualities of immediacy and invocation - even sitting here at my screen, I can think back and feel the moisture of the sacred caves settle on my skin, and the prescence of the guardian spirits prickle down my spine. Merrick herself is a modern woman with the power of the ancients a hairsbreath away - if she dares risk her soul to claim it. Into this melange of the mystical and the mundane comes Louis, the most human and most tragic of Rice's creations. Louis, like Armand in "Memnoch" steps into the morning light and is reborn from the love of a fledgling. I give this book 5 stars only because that's the highest Amazon will let me - I would always give it the highest rating available. There is a truly Shakesperean feel to many of Anne Rice's tragedies, but "Merrick" goes places Shakepeare would never dare to walk - into the realm of shadows and spirits in the most viscereal sense imaginable.
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on 26 July 2015
A great read and continues the vampire tales well. I really enjoyed the ending and opens up a new adventure for the vampires. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has been reading Anne Rice's chronicles.
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on 9 November 2000
I discovered Anne Rice's works at the beginning of this year when I did "Interview With the Vampire" for an exam. As a jaded literature student, I found myself suitably compelled to read the entire novel. I did; it was wonderful, passionate, beautiful. Then the second, and the third, followed, and I came away thinking I had read the best series of books ever. "Tale of the Body Thief" was something of a let-down, "Memnoch", I won't even dwell upon. "The Vampire Armand" was flat, out-of-canon and at times downright boring. This tale is not too bad; the whole witch thing seems to be nothing more than an advert for the Witching Hour trilogy, though, and Louis and Lestat, the compelling outsiders of the first novels, are *sigh* AGAIN given little to do. OR say. Or tell tell us how they feel. At least "Merrick" is consistent with the downward slide of the quality of Rice's work. I make no pretensions of being an icredible intellectual, but I know when a book is badly-written and badly-plotted, and boy, is this an example of it. Horribly mundane after the passionate brilliance of her other works, it seems obvious that when Rice writes now, it is cash rather than art which drives her on. Ugh. Finally, if "Interview With the Vampire" is such a wonderful novel, and Louis the dark, sensual character worthy of being studied at university, then this book does as much as it can to turn it around. He is spineless where before he was at turns destructive and horrifyingly beautiful. If you don't care about character development and glaring contradictions, read it. Everyone else, just know that this is for Rice's most devoted of fans.
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on 24 October 2000
When I got the book I sat down and read it from cover to cover without a break, I was so full of anticipation as I am a total Anne fan with the character Louis being my favourite. I have to say that the book left me kind of empty. It was not your typical vampire chronicle at all. Several key scenes which I will not specify here for fear of spoilers were completely glossed over! The book was more of a witches book that a vampire book. The last part of the book felt like it was written in a rush, almost as if Anne could not be bothered to finish it properly. All I hope is that this was just an introduction to a new character and that the chronicles will go back to their former glory with the next publication.
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