Book review: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Eleven years after the Brat Prince last graced our bookshelves with his adventures, Lestat is back with a cast of thousands in the aptly named Prince Lestat, a shrine to Anne Rice’s long-time dashing literary hero.

In what essentially amounts to a modern rehash of the plot of third Vampire Chronicle Queen of the Damned, vampires all over the world are destroyed by burnings instigated by elders who are being mind-controlled by a mysterious Voice. The great and ancient among the undead must convene to strategise a solution, and almost all look to the vain and indomitable Lestat to provide leadership in the situation.

Basically an open love letter to Rice’s charming blue eyed demon, Prince Lestat contains both moments of pure delight and moment of pure drudgery. Worsted wool suits and flashy silk ties are described in repetitive detail as interesting and ancient beings are relegated by necessity to simply giving pained looks from a corner, or smirking with an untold secret. I have always loved Anne Rice’s descriptive powers, however they are at their best when subtly interwoven into a heartfelt and action-packed story with only one or two major characters, such as The Vampire Lestat, the breathtaking second novel in the series.

The introduction of a few intriguing new vampires is done well but a few previous characters are left out completely, and given that some of them are the love interests and fledglings of the story’s hero, are conspicuous in their absence. Despite the glossary and additional information provided for new readers to the series, I would say that at very least the three first books of the Vampire Chronicles are an essential read for anyone who is thinking of taking on Prince Lestat.

The title character is given little to do in this book, until nearly the end of it. With that in mind, I do not believe that new readers will understand the sway and magnetism which he holds over the world of the undead. Rich in description and charm but lean in action and its hero’s voice, Prince Lestat is no stand out among its predecessors either as one of the best or the worst chronicles. It is genuinely comforting to be back in the world that Rice has so painstakingly created over the last forty years and the return of some favourite characters will please long-time fans, even if their page time is limited by necessity. I look forward to the mentioned sequels to this novel in the hope that now that the set-up for this new chapter is complete, we can move into some real action and genuine relationship tension that makes the good ones in this series, so great.

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