“I’m Gentleman Death in silk and lace, come to put out the candles. The canker in the rose.” ~Lestat~ (Anne Rice)
I thought since we’re approaching the night on October 31 where the creatures of the night, celebrate the moonlight, I’ll tell you about two of those creatures, their names are Louis and Lestat, and they are vampires. We’re first introduced to to them in the book, “Interview with the Vampire” written by Anne Rice. A weary and anguished vampire named “Louis” is telling his story to a character only known as “the boy.“The story begins in the late 17th c. on a plantation in New Orleans, Louis (the plantation owner) is grief-stricken over the death of his brother and is wishing for death to claim him, which is exactly what happens. He is approached by a gentleman vampire named, Lestat, who offers him the chance to escape the pain and leave the plantation behind by turning him into a fellow vampire.
At first, Louis hesitates, but is convinced by Lestat who promises him an immortal life full of adventure, riches and pleasure. Louis, who retains his compassion and empathy for humans is repulsed and horrified by the drinking of human blood, which Lestat enjoys and thrives on. Instead, Louis chooses to live off the blood of animals. Louis and Lestat are forced to flee one night as they discover the plantations slaves are planning a revolt against the two. Before, they leave though, Louis and Lestat set the plantation on fire and kill all of the slaves for fear of the news being spread of what they truly are. Running through the night, they decide to become members of the high-class society in New Orleans.
“…And what constitutes evil, real evil is the taking of a single human life. Whether a man would die tomorrow or the day after or eventually…it doesn’t matter. Because if God does not exist, then life…every second of it…is all we have.” ~Louis (Anne Rice)
Louis slowly comes to realize in order to stay strong and exist as a true vampire, he too must start drinking human blood. Unlike Lestat, Louis never finds pleasure in killing his victims and continually berates Lestat for his savagery and joy when he kills. One night, Louis sees a girl about five years old suffering from the plague laying next to the body of her dead mother. Lestat, sensing that Louis is become more distant from him and might leave him, turns this little girl into a vampire to become a “daughter.” for them. Louis who genuinely cares for the little girl they now call “Claudia” knows he cannot abandon her and stays with Louis. Anne Rice, takes us through macabre turns and twists as we’re brought into their world and become part of their “family.”
Before this book, “Dracula,” (whom I adore) was the basis for all vampires in books and movies. We saw glimpses of his “human” side with a fascination and blood lust for human women, but we never really get to know him. I had never seen the internal struggles before in a vampire that Louis demonstrates. I love the wit and beauty of Lestat and am fascinated with the forming of their family with a little girl vampire. After reading this book, I was, well still am convinced there IS a society of vampires living in New Orleans with all the proper vampire etiquette and harsh glamor. There are three more books in this series known as “The Vampire Chronicles.” In the following book, we get to see Lestat’s side of the story whereas this first book focuses mainly on Louis’ view. I loved the second book, but was disappointed with the last two books, because I felt they were rehashing material I’ve already read.
There have been movies and even a graphic novel based on “The Vampire Chronicles.” I was also disappointed with the movie version of “Interview with the Vampire” starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst. I didnt’ feel that Cruise was able to flesh out (no pun intended) the brilliance and depth of “Lestat”. I felt that Pitt did a decent job as “Louis” with his sorrow and remorse. Rumor has it that the actor Robert Downey Jr. will be playing “Lestat” based on the second novel in this series. This I look forward to as I think Downey is not only a brilliant actor but has also in his own way lived the decadent life-style of “Lestat.” Even if you’re not a fan of vampires, I feel that at least the first two books of this series is definitely worth reading for how well Rice draws in the reader and makes one feel, well, almost undead. I don’t plan on becoming a vampire in the near future, so I’ll settle by getting into the minds and bodies of one through these books.