This nouveau classic of vampire fiction sets the thematic stage for the modern genre. Review by S.K. Slevinski

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In Print
Fans of vampire fiction don't need to read a reviewer's commentary thirty years after Anne Rice's landmark novel, Interview with the Vampire, was published. However, this book may hold some unforeseen surprises for fans of other alternative reality genres who may be reluctant to make the jump.

This novel tells the tale of Louis, an 18th century plantation owner who is tormented by life but afraid of death. Looking for any escape from his grief over life's cruel turns, Louis accepts a proffered hand from a mysterious stranger—Lestat, a vampire who offers Louis eternal life in exchange for the support of his plantation's wealth for a luxurious, and murderous, lifestyle. The manipulative "father" vampire of Lestat keeps Louis in his debt, and in his company, by withholding from him the secrets of his new vampire nature. Louis himself is no longer tormented by the pains of life, but his vampire angst is even more intense. Louis is plagued with questions of his nature and of theology, and he is ultimately driven to discover if he is a creature of the Devil, damned by God, crafted only for evil and murder. The question, as Louis discovers, is not so simple.

Book Cover

On Audio
I have been a fan, in varying degrees, of all the major alternative reality genres, but perhaps least so of horror. Despite hearing the general enthusiasm of Anne Rice fans over this book, and her ensuing Vampire Chronicles, for years, I was never moved to pick up the book. Perhaps because of length. Seeing the more recent film version, though I enjoyed it, left me with even less motive to pick up the book. However, when I stumbled upon the unabridged audiobook version at my local library, I figured I might as well give it a try to see what all the fuss has been about. I was surprised that I found it as engaging as I did. This version was well narrated, and the story I found more engaging than the film—especially in many parts left out of the film version. Ultimately, I think the strength of this book is its character Louis—an innovation at the time when he was first written—a sympathetic vampire with conscience pangs and internal angst. I found his internal conflict more interesting than I expected to, perhaps because the book is ultimately character-based. During the first half, Louis interior turmoil is well-interspersed and interconnected with exterior events. Later in the novel, however, I felt that the book dwelled too much on this internal suffering in a way that I suppose is meant to be darkly exquisite. Perhaps it is darkly exquisite to most horror fans, but I found these later ponderings less compelling. However, the story remains true to its character's central conflict and ends appropriately with a semi-tragic but ultimately angst-ridden ending.

I believe that readers who normally favor alternative reality genres other than horror—especially fantasy and historical—will find a lot to enjoy in this book. Not least of which is a classic character conflict. For those daunted by the prospect of Victorian-style pondering, the audiobook version is an especially apt choice, well-produced and well-narrated.

S.K. Slevinski is senior editor for ARWZ Literary Magazine and a long time reader of alternative reality fiction. She is currently a graduate student, specializing in folklore.

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