Interview With the Vampire
(The Vampire Chronicles, Book One)
By Anne Rice
Rating: 5 Stars
I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without reading this book. It’s been on my to-read list for YEARS and I’ve always considered it a classic despite never having seen a word of it. On Overdrive I have a million audiobooks saved on my wish list (because of course I do) with Interview with the Vampire among them, though it was never available and the hold list was always too long for me to bother. Imagine my surprise when I checked back randomly a few days ago and saw it was AVAILABLE. Obviously I jumped on that shit. The only word that I can think of to describe the experience of this audiobook—because it’s totally an experience—is entrancing. Anne Rice and Simon Vance put me under a spell.
It opens in a nondescript room somewhere in San Francisco, with two men present. As they navigate through awkward small talk, it becomes obvious that they just met in a bar and are now planning on conducting an interview of some kind. The interviewer—simply referred to as “the boy” the entire novel—begins recording the conversation and Louis describes his life as a vampire. The boy does not believe him in the beginning, naturally. It’s not until Louis is a good quarter into the tale that he realizes it’s true and sits in rapt attention.
The tale begins with Louis talking a little about his human life. He’s French, but his family immigrated to New Orleans when he was young and they remained there, on the family plantation Pointe du Lac, for the rest of his human life. We never hear much of his parents, but Louis has a sister and brother, the latter of whom is extremely religious—even described as a Saint. After a confrontation between the two brothers, a freak accident occurs leaving Louis left standing and completely guilt-ridden. The annoying vampire Lestat finds him in this sad state, feeding from Louis and almost killing him from blood loss. He gives our narrator the choice of becoming a vampire without really giving him a choice, if you know what I mean. Even though Louis knows he’s being turned for his plantation and monetary value, he agrees anyway.
After the change, the two vampires take control of Pointe du Lac with Lestat telling his new protégée about vampire life on a strictly need-to-know basis, a maneuver designed to keep Louis tied to him. Unfortunately, it’s not until after Louis is gifted with eternal life and trapped with his sire that he realizes he hates him. Lestat does nothing but spend tons of cash and kill people, both of which Louis despises. After some time, the slaves of the plantation understandably get suspicious and figure out what they are, forcing them to flee one night after Louis sets the place ablaze. The dynamic duo take refuge at the nearby Freniere plantation, which is owned by a woman (the scandal!) Babette whom Louis has secretly admired and given advice to in the past. With only seconds to spare, he convinces her to house them for the day in a cellar, no questions asked, but there’s a sad meeting the following night when they awake. Because she knows. Babette doesn’t realize they’re vampires specifically, but senses their evil and calls Louis a monster. Like the poor guy didn’t feel crappy enough.
Once Louis convinces Lestat to leave the woman unharmed, they flee to downtown New Orleans and set up shop. Babette’s comment sends Louis into a horrible self-hatred hell spiral that ends with him drinking the blood of a young five-ish year-old girl, Claudia. He is so disgusted with himself that he stops before killing the poor thing, leaving her on the brink of death. Lestat is so relieved to see Louis doing something deplorable for once, he decides to turn the girl for some amusement. *Cue disgusted eyeroll* The three vampires spend decades living as one weird little family while Claudia becomes more aware of herself and her situation. As her and Louis grow closer, she starts to blame Lestat for what she is—a cursed child—until one night she can’t take it any longer and kills him. With their newfound freedom, Louis and Claudia travel across Europe looking for answers about their vampiric origins until they end up in Paris. A chance meeting with a master vampire Armand changes their fate forever and they struggle to deal with the answers they were so desperate to find.
As the story draws to a close, our boy interviewer has quite the violent reaction and the book ends somewhat open ended on a (kind-of) cliffy. Until next time…
Man, this was a hard review to write. I was so overwhelmed when this was over, that I had to think on it a few days. For an audiobook, fifteen hours is a pretty average length, but it felt like SO MUCH was packed into that time frame. An entire lifetime, which is the whole point. So many things happen that I couldn’t include in the above summary because no one would read this damn post if it was a million miles long. There’s never a dull moment and so much edge-of-your-seat excitement that you’ll never be bored.
The writing is AMAZING and Anne Rice just shot up to one of my favorite authors with this book alone. It’s completely thought-provoking and I found myself thinking about it for days afterward. Framing the story of Louis’s past with the interview dialogue happening in the present was genius and let us, as an outsider, relate to “the boy” as we mimicked his reactions. The fantastical ideas thrown at us about vampires are hard to digest at times, and his confused questions to Louis help draw the reader further into this new world. Plus, in retrospect it’s hard for me to believe there wasn’t an ounce of sex in this book because it was SENSUAL AS HELL. Rice somehow managed to create an undercurrent of sexuality for the whole novel without anyone even kissing. That, my friends, is increadible.
And this Simon Vance guy?? Holy crap he was good. Somehow he managed to manipulate his voice into a distinct, separate personality for each character and the french accent he uses for Louis is perfect. I can see why he’s won awards for his work, dude deserves it. Listening to him talk made the whole novel feel more like an old radio drama, and I definitely mean that as a compliment.
Okay, this isn’t necessarily a negative remark, but since I’m lacking in bad things to say about Interview With a Vampire, I’m just sticking it here.
When I fist started listening to this, I poked around on Goodreads and was shocked to see barely above average reviews. Like I said, this book was always categorized as a classic in my mind and I was confused about the mediocre response. Now that I’ve gone through the whole thing, I can understand it a little more. Anne Rice’s style is very heavy on the descriptions. She spends so much time being verbose about specific moments that it’s shocking to learn how much time is actually going by in the story. What feels like a few years of Louis’s vampire life turns out to be sixty. I can see how this could turn some people off, especially if they’re reading the physical book. These detailed descriptions Rice uses work well for audio, contributing to the old radio drama feel I was talking about earlier, but they could definitely be construed as boring to some.
This novel is DA BOMB and the audiobook is a masterpiece. I highly recommend this to anyone who rolls their eyes at Twilight like me and wants to stick with the classics.