There’s nothing I can say about this book that hasn’t been said already and said far more eloquently. But I’m going to talk about it anyway because it’s special to me. This book was the book—the one that started my love for vampire books.
I read this for the first time when I was 14, and then proceeded to read the rest of the 11 or so Vampire Chronicles books (plus the New Tales ones) available at the time. When I think of high school, these are the books that come to mind. I have a lot of memories of reading these books. They mean something to me. They shaped me as a reader and, maybe in some ways, as a person.
So, 8 or so years later, I decided I wanted to revisit this book that meant so much to me as a teen and to refresh my memory before finally reading Claudia’s Story. My first attempt didn’t go well—I DNFed around 20%—but a few years after that, I found myself thinking about this book more and more until one day I came upon some fan art and was suddenly filled with this excitement and desire to reread the book immediately, and I think being in the right mood made all the difference. I really enjoyed it, to the point that I actually want to continue rereading the series—I hadn’t been expecting that.
But anyway… I’ve decided my reviews for this series aren’t going to be reviews so much as just a way for me to track and discuss my thoughts. So the likes/dislikes might be helpful for people considering the book, but the rest will be better for anyone who’s already read it or is just curious. Also, I just want to note that I’m basing these thoughts on THIS BOOK ONLY, not any of the later books.
Things I Disliked/Things I Didn’t Mind but Others Might Dislike:
– The interview style of the book was weird since technically it was 3rd person omniscient set in the present, but, since most of the book was Louis talking, it felt more like 1st person set in the past. It sounds like something that be distracting, but I still kept getting lost in the story regardless.
– There was a lot of flowery language and description. Sometimes it drew me into the story, other times it was too much.
– Descriptions of characters and random humans was… strangely sensual in a way that I sometimes found kind of unsettling. Maybe it was because, instead of noticing typical things, Louis noticed things like the plumpness of someone’s cheeks. Seriously, the word ‘plump’ was used five times which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it sure seems that way while you’re reading. It was like everyone described came from a cherubic Renaissance painting (though I feel like this might just be Anne Rice’s writing style). Although, I suppose it makes sense that a vampire would describe people with a word more often used to describe food.
– There was no goal to work toward. It was literally just a vampire explaining everything that happened in his life.
– There weren’t regular chapters, just four parts.
– Louis and Armand kept tossing around the word ‘love’ like candy almost as soon as they met. But Armand himself said he only wanted Louis because Louis would be the one to revitalize him and keep him from falling into despair from the immortality. And Louis, well, he was clearly just enamored by the way someone was finally willing to give him answers and talk with him and listen while he brooded aloud.
Things I Liked:
– I will always love this portrayal of vampires. I mean, I do like reading about sex + biting, but, for these vampires, feeding and killing IS sex, and I can appreciate that. (I still remember the first time I read a book in which the vampires had sex though, I hated it and was like, “No! That’s not how it’s supposed to be!” Lol.) The biting still has this sensual/erotic aspect to it at times. And I just like these beautiful yet deadly vampires. They’re human, yet they’re not human.
– The characterization was fantastic. None of the characters were particularly likeable, but they were so well-written, and that made me kind of like them anyway. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the characters I read about are bland or super similar to other characters, but both Louis and Lestat were so different from each other and also unique in their own rights.
– There were some unconventional relationships. I found them thought-provoking (more on this below).
– The whole book had a dark, atmospheric feel.
My Thoughts on the Characters (there might be *SPOILERS* in this section):
– Armand. I feel like I still don’t know much about Armand. He seemed pretty inhuman and emotionless. But he also seemed like someone you could talk to for a long time, and he was a great listener.
– Claudia. Everyone knows about the tragic child vampire, trapped forever in the body of a child, never able to be independent, never able to live or be treated like an adult. But what was so interesting about her was the fact that, for all intents and purposes, she didn’t have a human life before becoming a vampire. She was only five years old, so, unlike others, Claudia didn’t have a humanity to remember and to influence her. She was turned before she even understood right from wrong, before she understood the value of life. And because of that, she was… different. Cold, cruel, and vicious in her own unique ways, but also suffering.
– Louis. Ah… I’m not sure how I feel about him. He was not without his flaws, like kind of only seeing what he wanted to see (especially when it came to Armand and Claudia), but he was far more likeable to me than the others as a person (well, vampire) because he wasn’t as cruel. I would much rather have Louis as my companion than Lestat, Claudia, or Armand. Louis is an introspective, a thinker, a seeker of knowledge, an appreciator of beauty, and I can relate to all those things to some degree. I also felt for him, stuck with Lestat of all people as his maker. Lestat was a horrible mentor, so I could understand Louis being upset about that. I could also understand why Louis stayed with him (more on this below). But Louis’s brooding did eventually get to be a bit much. All he did was dwell in negatives and pain. He said he wanted to appreciate things with his new vampire life, but it didn’t seem like he ever actually did that. And then, by the end, this vampire who had been the most in tune with his humanity became numb and more detached from life than even Lestat or Armand. But who knows, any one of us might turn out the same if we were turned into monsters, hated what we were, were emotionally abused and manipulated, lost the person we loved, and were alive for centuries. So I don’t dislike him. I do feel sad for him though.
– Lestat. Oh, Lestat. He was abusive, manipulative, greedy, controlling, and temperamental, and he wouldn’t let Louis leave because he was afraid of being alone. He was terrible toward Louis and Claudia, and he was cruel to the humans and would terrorize them before killing or would make them fall in love with him so that he could add betrayal to their pain when he killed them. The one word I’d use to describe him though is ‘pathetic.’ Lestat was terrible, abusive, and cruel, and then, when those he treated terribly finally wanted nothing more to do with him, he was weak, scared, lost, lonely, and wanted them back. He might not actually be that simple, I guess I will find out when I keep reading, but that’s how I feel about him based on how he was portrayed through Louis’s POV. Don’t get me wrong, he was interesting as a character, just not likeable as a person. Ironically though, he seemed to have more humanity than any of the others in one sense of the word—he still felt emotions and passions and life in a way that the others didn’t seem to.
My Thoughts on the Relationships (there might be *SPOILERS* in this section):
– Louis and Claudia’s was the strangest because he raised her as a father, then he became her lover (minus the sex), but he still kind of thought of her as a child and treated her like a child because she looked like one. Louis himself literally described them as: “Father and Daughter. Lover and Lover.”
– Then there was Louis and Lestat who most certainly did not love each other (or if they did, it was definitely not in a healthy way) but who stayed together regardless and raised a vampire child together. They even had discussions about Claudia’s “acting out” as though she were really their child, and Lestat would storm out, telling Louis to talk to her because he couldn’t deal with her. They made their own little dysfunctional family. But this wasn’t a cute, funny thing—their relationship was abusive, and I can understand Louis’s side to an extent. Lestat was the epitome of an abusive parent/partner/friend/whatever. Lestat constantly belittled Louis, he made Louis believe that he (Louis) needed him (Lestat), he even made a child with Louis in order to manipulate him into staying because he knew Louis wanted to leave him. Anyone who’s never dealt with a person like that might think the solution is really simple—Louis should’ve just stopped whining and left—but 1) he didn’t know if there were other vampires, and he didn’t want to be alone either, 2) Lestat was his maker, which probably gave them some sort of bond, and 3) Lestat was manipulative, controlling, and physically more powerful than Louis. In abusive relationships, it’s not always as simple as just leaving. So I do believe that Louis hated Lestat, but I believe his feelings were more complex than that, which is realistic. As for Lestat’s feelings for Louis… I honestly don’t know. That’s still an enigma to me. I wanted to talk about this though because I’ve seen people talk about romance/love/batting eyes at each other/etc. in this book between Louis and Lestat, but all I could really see was how abusive and manipulative Lestat’s actions and words were.
– I’m not sure I even understand what Louis’s relationship was with Armand. They traveled the world together, but Louis had become numb already by that point, and he said something about going off on his own for long periods of time before returning to Armand.
Even though this book had a lot of description and a few other things that would normally put me off a book, it’s a vampire classic, it means something to me because of how much it’s influenced my reading habits, and I found myself being drawn in by the great characterization!
*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 2nd read.*
No Rating (1st Read – mid/late 2000s)
4 Stars (2nd Read – 2017)
Anyone who likes beautiful yet deadly vampires, descriptive writing, and amazingly complex characters.