42 years after the publication of “Interview with the Vampire”, author Anne Rice is still proving herself to be the Queen of the Fang Gang. She recently struck a deal with Hulu to bring her Vampire Chronicles to the small screen, and on October 2nd, she released the newest entry in that series: “Blood Communion”.
This is the 13th entry of The Chronicles and even a hardcore fan such as myself could be forgiven for wondering if the characters and storyline after all this time have gone a little stale. Luckily, that is not the case. Rice still has the knack for creating lush, exotic backdrops for her Children of Darkness to prowl through and Lestat is as compelling a narrator and anti-hero as he was in the earliest novels of the series. Rice did take quite a lengthy break from her Vampires, with an eleven-year gap between 2003’s darkly depressing “Blood Canticle” and 2014’s “Prince Lestat”, which was not only a return to form, but a re-energizing jump-start of the whole series.
“Blood Communion” picks up the narrative strand begun in “Prince Lestat” and continued in 2016’s “Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis”. These three novels could stand alone outside of The Chronicles as a trilogy of sorts. Since her return to the series, Rice’s writing has taken on a frenetic, suspenseful tone, a sense of urgency missing from the earlier books. Gone are pages and pages full of Lestat’s reflective meditations and mourning his lost humanity- these novels are thrilling page-turners, more plot and action oriented than any of Rice’s other works since “Queen of the Damned”.
The beginning of “Blood Communion” finds Lestat comfortably seated in a position of power as Prince of the Vampires when “The Court” (his gathering of loyal vamp subjects) and all he loves comes under the threat of destruction. Rhoshamandes, ancient vampire and villain of the two previous entries, is a rogue that refuses to bend the knee to Lestat and is breaking the terms of the truce brokered with The Court. But Rhoshamandes is not the oldest, nor the most menacing creature casting its shadow over Lestat and his cohorts.
Without giving too much away, I can honestly say this is one of the bloodiest books in the whole series. There are plenty of gory moments of group feasting that verge on cannibalism (more Romero than Rice, fodder for the Horror Hounds) and a darkly humorous revelation of a dungeon filled with human victims in case any of Lestat’s loyal subjects need a midnight snack. There are scenes that will be heartbreaking for any long-time Vampire Chronicles fan- all your favorite characters are here and none of them are safe.
I loved this book and I love the direction the series is headed. In the earlier novels, Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius, and all the other vampires always seemed to be wrestling with the fact that they had no place in the world. For all their revelations, for all their impacts on history, they were relegated to the shadows, on the fringes of humanity. Monsters. Now, they have taken their place; they have defined their purpose. Like any good series must do, it has evolved; the characters have grown along with the readers.
But front and center here, as always, is Lestat; he is the real reason the series has endured, and its popularity has not much waned. With his arrogance, his pompous attitude, he is still the rock star vampire he set out to be in “Queen of the Damned”. I never tire of him. I think he appeals to the horror hound in me, what remains of the strange hippie-goth-nerd hybrid I was in high school, and the nihilist deep inside of all of us. My only hope is that Anne Rice enjoys the same sort of longevity as her bloodthirsty creations and there will be many more stories of Lestat to come.