“I saw him when he came through the front doors. Tall, solidly built dark brown hair and eyes, skin still fairly dark because it had been dark when I’d made him a vampire. Walking a little too fast, but basically passing for a human being. My beloved David.
I was on the stairway. The grand stairway, one might say. It was one of those very opulent old hotels, divinely overdone, full of crimson and gold, and rather pleasant. My victim had picked it. I hadn’t. My victim was dining with his daughter. And I’d picked up from my victim’s mind that this was where he always met his daughter in New York, for the simple reason that St. Patrick’s Cathedral was across the street.”
Anne Rice is one of those authors I both love and hate to read. I say that a bit tongue-n-cheek as I’ve obviously not allowed that to keep me from reading many of her novels. There’s no denying that she crafts beautifully told stories that make compelling reading but I often find myself thinking… what the hell did I just read? What I dislike (I can’t really say hate, I don’t hate her stuff at all)….is that sometimes the stories meander for quite some time at the beginning and that has a tendency to make them drag a bit making the story a difficult to get into but yet there’s still just enough compelling tidbits dropped that I persevere. I recently reviewed one of her stand-alone novels, Servant of the Bones, and found the same thing true with that story.
I find myself wondering, if this isn’t part of the genius of her story-telling. While her stories do seem to progress at a glacial pace at times, she does still manage to keep the reader hooked. It takes great talent to really tell a story the way the author needs to tell it and still keep the reader hooked. I’ll share something with you that I’ve recently noticed regarding her books…when I’ve completed one I often find myself thinking ….did I like it or not? This isn’t something I tend to do with most authors but I find I do with her books. She really makes me think. It’s much the same way I feel about her main characters (in this case Lestat), do I like him….or not? Is he really the monster I’ve always thought him to be? I wonder if this is entirely intentional on her part. I suspect she intends for us as readers to come away feeling this way, she wants us to think; her stories can be quite cerebral and chock full of symbolism, sadly at times that can make them a bit laborious to read but still that golden carrot is dangled in front of us and we continue reading and we wonder…did I like it? Did I like him?
So…onward to my review! In this novel we come across Lestat once again, this time searching for Dora, the daughter of his latest victim, Roger. She’s beautiful, charismatic, moral; very different from her drug lord father. She holds the immortal Lestat enthralled. I find myself wondering, does he love her…or not? He often speaks as though he may but it’s very hard to tell. I honestly wish there had been a bit more to explain Dora and Lestat. Often it sounds as though he’s fallen head-over-teakettle for her, but then again it seems everyone in this book calls each other “beloved and darling”…which truthfully, I found a bit strange.
Then along comes Memnoch claiming to be the Devil himself…with an offer for Lestat to become his “Prince”, his right-hand man so-to-speak. In order to help sway Lestat’s decision Memnoch presents him with unimagined opportunities. He will explain creation to him, give him the meaning of life, allowing him to witness it first-hand and explain how he became “The Devil”. He intends to make a present of Heaven and Hell, allowing Lestat to visit each and ultimately see the face of God for himself; perhaps even interact with him. Memnoch intends to give Lestat as much information as possible in order to convince him to become his Prince. Who will Lestat choose…who will he believe, the Devil or God.
I mentioned before that I find Ms. Rice’s books to be arduous reading and a bit drawn out…this story is of course no exception. So much explanation goes into it and while it can be a bit cumbersome to read through I do feel it is necessary. It is after all Lestat recounting his encounters with the divine and his journey throughout ancient history, one cannot simply describe creation in a paragraph so I can see why at times it must be so verbose.
Over all, my journey through this novel felt like a very in-depth theological discussion about the morality of God and the Devil. I’m familiar with the argument Ms. Rice puts forth. Is the Devil really the monster he’s painted out to be by modern religion? Was Jesus perhaps truly God incarnate here on Earth to observe and learn? Interesting conversation points from my perspective, in fact…I’m sure I’ve had those discussions myself in the past so I was able to easily go along with it.
I found the ending quite strange however; it was….in comparison to the rest of the book quite abrupt. Had I not been physically reading the book I wouldn’t have thought I was near finished with the story and that’s what has me leaving this one at (3.5) stars rather than 4. It felt as though there should have been at least a few more chapters to bring it all together.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you are someone who can read a book with an open mind regarding the Christian faith, I do think you will enjoy this novel. It almost feels like Anne having a theological discussion with herself, perhaps she’s given us a glimpse into her mind as well?
I would love to hear what others who have read this have to say.