Top critical review
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Failed to cast a spell on me.
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.