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Book Review: ‘The Vampire Lestat’ by Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire was first released by Anne Rice almost fifty years ago. Rice followed it with the sequel, The Vampire Lestat came almost a decade later, but that’s just a drop in the bucket for a vampire. Covering Lestat’s early life, his transformation into an immortal, his early missteps, and his glorious rebirth, Anne Rice covers a much larger time span in The Vampire Lestat than she did in Interview with the Vampire. We find out that in terms of immortals, Lestat is still very young, but his impact on the world of vampires has been huge. And in classic Lestat fashion, it’s about to be even bigger. Lestat is a devil but he’s one that everyone loves, which is the most dangerous kind.

[Warning: My review of The Vampire Lestat contains some spoilers! If you want to also read my review of Interview With The Vampire novel, check out the link below!]

Book Review: Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire

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Anne Rice’s vampires need therapists

“Vampires need therapists.” That was my big thought while I was reading The Vampire Lestat. I mean, anyone reading Interview with the Vampire can clearly see that Louis is depressed. He needs help. Lestat, on the other hand, is manic. He does have fits of despair, though, so I guess he’s more bipolar than just straight manic. Either way, they can’t take pharmaceuticals, so they need some serious therapy. 

Honestly, and it might just be the result of how becoming immortal messes with your mind, but there isn’t really a single vampire that doesn’t have some kind of mental health issues. Of course, if they were all perfectly well-adjusted and morally honorable, Rice’s work would be rather boring, so she made the right choice, but man, having all these psychotic superhumans running around hits differently now than it did when I was a teenager! I spent a good deal of time thinking, “please, just go talk to a professional” while I was reading The Vampire Lestat.

A familiar trope but very well done in The Vampire Lestat

Lestat is one of a kind. There is no one else like him, alive or undead. Sort of. His brand of loveable devil, chaos with remorse, is actually a really old and very common trope in literature, movies, and even life. We all knew that kid who was always making trouble, but then they’d smile just right at the teacher and all was forgiven.

Currently, Loki in the MCU is the fan favorite villain turned hero. In fact, Lestat reminds me very much of Loki, right down to his brand of humor. Something about the bad boy that wants to be good (but not too good) just seems to really resonate with people.

The good thing about using such a familiar template for Lestat is that we instantly feel like we know him. Sure, if you read Interview with the Vampire, you already knew him. But you knew Louis’ interpretation of Lestat, not Lestat himself. When we get to know him through his own thoughts in The Vampire Lestat we see things a little differently. We come to understand a lot of what he did and why. Not justifying it, there is no justifying some of the things Lestat did, but understanding leads to forgiveness and allows us as readers to really love Lestat. 

Anne Rices's Interview with the Vampire
Lestat (Tom Cruise) and Louis (Brad Pitt) in 1994s adaptation of Interview With the Vampire. (Warner Brothers).

Now, the bad part of using a common character template is that it can make the character very boring and predictable. Rice manages to avoid doing this with Lestat. Even though he is very much a Loki/Puck/Lucifer character, he has a style and flair that’s all his own. He is remarkably dramatic and more willing to punish himself than some other characters that belong to his type. I believe this is because he has a very strong poor-me mind set that mixes oddly, but not unbelievably, with his high confidence levels. There are plenty of real people out there with this same type of personality. They are exhausting, especially if you’re not pulled in by their charm.

Now because of a little thing I call narrator prejudice, we as readers become emotionally invested in the narrator (or main character) and that leads to us liking them even if they’re not actually that likable. So instead of wishing he would go away (like in real life), we find ourselves rooting for him.

I find myself swinging back and forth between “Lestat you’re terrible” and “Lestat I totally understand you” whenever I read The Vampire Lestat, but my general feelings towards him are still warm and indulgent. Interestingly enough, I always dislike Lestat in Interview with a Vampire and find him annoying or tiresome in the other Vampire Chronicle novels.

Interview with the Vampire series tie-in

If you’re watching the Interview with the Vampire series on AMC+ then I highly recommend reading The Vampire Lestat now. There is at least one episode in season 2 that draws from Anne Rice’s extended backstory. It’s in The Vampire Lestat that we learn about how Lestat is tied to the Theatres des Vampires and their leader Armand. It’s a complicated story and while I’m sure AMC+ will do their best, nothing beats a novel for truly understanding a complicated situation.

The series is very well done. They made some changes, of course, aging up Claudia (Bailey Bass) and changing the time frame to the 1920s instead of the 1790s, but these are minor. What’s important is they did an outstanding job with the characters and their interpersonal connections. And that’s what these stories are really all about, the connections between these beings who live forever yet are so alone. 

Interview With The Vampire Trio
LtR: Claudia (Bailey Bass), Louis (Jacob Anderson), and Lestat (Sam Reid) in Interview With The Vampire season 1 (AMC)

The first season took us up to Louis (Jacob Anderson) and Claudia’s betrayal of Lestat (Sam Reid). Which means that the second season still has a considerable amount of ground to cover from Interview with the Vampire. There is some clarification and background that is revealed in The Vampire Lestat that would be nice to include as the story moves towards a very emotional ending. After that, I hope the series continues to adapt Rice’s work, sharing more of The Vampire Lestat and moving on to the other Vampire Chronicles works.

Interview with the Vampire season 2 began on May 12, 2024 on AMC at 9/8c. New episodes will air each week on AMC as well as being available for streaming on AMC+. There will be eight episodes airing one each Sunday through the end of June. If you haven’t watched the show, yet I highly recommend it. 

The Vampire Lestat sets up The Queen of the Damned

I do enjoy The Vampire Lestat. If I’m being honest with you, it’s way better than Interview with the Vampire. But to be completely honest, my favorite thing about The Vampire Lestat is that it sets up The Queen of the Damned, which is my absolute favorite Anne Rice book.

The Vampire Lestat’s ending directly leads into The Queen of the Damned and to be honest, I can’t see reading The Queen of the Damned without reading The Vampire Lestat, there’d be a lot of missing backstory. But I also can’t imagine reading The Vampire Lestat without instantly going to the shelf and grabbing The Queen of the Damned. So read The Vampire Lestat. Revel in his selfishness and joy, then go grab The Queen of the Damned and enjoy that too, you can’t have one without the other.

Rating: 8/10

You can find Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat, Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned most places books are sold. Have you read either of these novels? How do you think the new series on AMC compares? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

Luna Gauthier has 223 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier