Interview with the Vampire. I was a big fan of the film but unfortunately found the book disappointing. Whilst I enjoyed the actual story, I thought the writing was long winded and Louie irritating. Nevertheless, I decided to try the second volume of the series because Lestat is more appealing as a character to read about and several people mentioned that The Vampire Lestat is more action packed than Interview with the Vampire.
The Vampire Lestat opens in San Francisco in 1984 with Lestat realising that the journalist from the first book has published Interview with the Vampire. It's riding high in the fiction charts and humans have no idea that the 'story' inside the pages is actually true. Despite it being taboo, Lestat decides to respond by writing his own account of his life and this is what he bulk of The Vampire Lestat covers. We follow him from his aristocratic beginnings in Revolution-era France through his travels around the world as he attempts to find out why vampires exist before finally settling in New Orleans. Along the way we meet many more vampires and hear their stories as Lestat traces the source of vampirism back to Ancient Egypt. But will the vampire population allow Lestat to publish his book?
The Vampire Lestat is a chunky book at 500+ pages but it reads quickly and fluently. I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire. One of the reasons for that is simply that Lestat is an easier character to read than Louie, he doesn't indulge in self-pity and is very impulsive, which leads to a lot more 'action'. Lestat is also curious about the world around him and other vampires, which opens the door for Rice to bring in some more stories alongside his. Although Lestat is the centerpiece of the novel he finds older vampires and they tell their story to him, meaning the book covers a wide time period and many perspectives. I appreciated this variety.
There's also a lot more information about vampires in this book. We find out why vampires exist, more about the rules that govern their existence and how vampires can differ from each other. I don't know if world-building is the right world for a novel such as this, but the 'vampire theory' feels more thought-out than it did in Interview with the Vampire and it makes sense as a whole. I especially appreciated that the vampires themselves couldn't agree about how best to be a vampire and what they should/shouldn't do. This made for some interesting conflicts as the book progressed.
The Vampire Lestat is pure escapism. I breezed through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, some parts crossed the line into silly/tacky, especially the Lestat as a twentieth century rock-star sub-plot at the very beginning and end. Having said that, I enjoyed it much more than Interview with the Vampire and would definitely read the third in the series, Queen of the Damned.
First Published: 1985
My Edition: Source Books, 2008
Score: 4 out of 5