By LINDY RYAN
From Count Dracula to Edward Cullen, vampires have long been a mainstay of horror literature. Many writers have helped shape the modern vampire, but few have had the influence of Anne Rice. With the release of Interview with the Vampire in 1976, her Vampire Chronicles changed the trajectory of modern vampires forever.
People often ask about my favorite horror book—the one that “started it all” for this horror girl. As answer, there’s a story I like to share, which goes: as a kid, I would often join my mother and grandmothers on their monthly pilgrimage to a local flea market. While they perused endless bric-à-brac at Larry’s Old Time Trade Days, I’d squirrel myself away in the market’s bookstore. With its wall-to-wall shelves caked with dust and crammed full of torn hardcovers and crinkled paperbacks, this was no neatly organized Books-A-Million or clean neighborhood library. But, for a fourteen-year-old who fully envisioned herself one day embarking on archeological digs with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (as in 1999’s The Mummy), the flea market bookstore begged for excavation. There was hidden treasure to be found on those dusty shelves, I was sure.
I struck gold on the bottom shelf: a ratty mass market paperback of Interview with the Vampire. Dog-eared and missing a portion of its cover, it cost only a quarter. I inhaled the book over the next two days, then again and again while I anxiously awaited the next trip to Larry’s, where I snagged equally as well-loved copies of The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. I completed the Chronicles, loving each book in turn, though my heart went back, time and time again, to Pointe du Lac and New Orleans, to the Théâtres des Vampires and that first sweet taste of the Dark Gift. Twenty-five years later, it still does.
We lost Anne in December 2021. Her legacy lives on, as immortal as the vampires she brought to life on the page. I like to think that she does, too, and is somewhere right now enjoying an evening in the company of Lestat, Louis, Armand, and others. While I’ve long wanted to reread the series from start to finish, it’s admittedly been hard to find the time. That time is now.
Here’s the plan: each month in 2023, I’ll reread one of the original Vampire Chronicles novels, beginning with Interview with the Vampire and ending with Blood Communion, and share my thoughts with you, dear reader. I won’t tackle the New Tales of the Vampires and likewise I’ll ignore any comparison to the film adaptations of Interview with the Vampire (1994) and The Queen of the Damned (2002), as well as the current AMC television series. With twelve books in the series, we’ll tackle one book per month, and recap it all at the end of the year.
The Vampire Chronicles:
Interview with the Vampire (1976)
The Vampire Lestat (1985)
The Queen of the Damned (1988)
The Tale of the Body Thief (1992)
Memnoch the Devil (1995)
The Vampire Armand (1998)
Blood and Gold (2001)
Blood Canticle (2003)
Prince Lestat (2014)
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis (2016)
Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat (2018)
First up, the one that started it all: Interview with the Vampire.