Sunday, 29 August 2010

Books Remembered #1: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles

This is a new feature that I want to introduce reminiscing about books or even series that I read over and over again. Or even a book read once that changed the way I looked at life. It can be a book from childhood or a modern series I just can’t get enough off. It’s not a review of the book(s) but merely remembering the impact it had on me and how it’s shaped my reading habits and likes –what made that book(s) memorable. Feel free to join in with your own books remembered.

This week I remember Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

Interview with the Vampire
Queen of the Damned
First up in Books Remembered has to be Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles – specifically the first three books – Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned. I read these books when I was a teenager and they had a huge impact on me. Even now I pull them out of the bookcase every couple of years and dive back into the Gothic world of New Orleans. They were perhaps my first introduction to ‘adult vampires’ - here vampires weren’t teenagers or the strange old  man, but creatures of darkness, revelling in blood. These vampires were fully rounded characters and their eternal life is forever influenced by their human life, before 'the Dark Gift'. It was their human emotions that defined them and while I could relate to them, they scared me as well.

Why do I remember these books so well? It was the emotion and the language these books provoked that has always stayed with me. After reading one, I came away wanting to speak in beautiful flowery language and longed for the deep melancholy Rice conjured with her characters. I loved the story – the movement through time and the action especially when you see it from different views. Lestat as viewed from Louis eyes in Interview with the Vampire was a very different creature to the one Lestat himself showed in The Vampire Lestat – yet they are both the same character and I could see how there was no difference between them.
In a similar way these three books each tell a complete story on their own but together create a multi-layered history of vampires and their history. They really are books that complement each other but don’t repeat the same thinly veiled story over again. It’s something missing in the rest of the Vampire Chronicles , the sense of wonder, that anything can happen and surprise. Not that the other books aren’t good reads on their own, but these three books are the ones that really made me fall in love in vampires – long before Edward Cullen came along. Anne Rice really started the Vampire as we know them today and there are few vampires that are as well portrayed. If you haven’t read them, pick them up – in fact I might visit New Orleans again as well and disappear into the Garden District...

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