Yet again, I read The Vampire Lestat when I was very young (hello TEN YEARS ago) and at the time I assumed I fully understood the book but really, I was probably completely at a loss. As I've said before, I've reread The Vampire Chronicles quite often during the past ten years and each time it's been a new experience to read them as I've grown, my tastes have changed, and I've learned more.
The main issue I have with The Vampire Lestat is that Lestat is likable in this book (and all other books where he narrates for that matter). It's a dodgy move on Anne Rice's part. Lestat is an utter ass in Interview with the Vampire. He's the villain. He's the character you learn to hate. And he just won't go away. But then you take The Vampire Lestat and he's this wonderful character. He's young at heart, full of life, full of dreams, full of power, and he loves more then he probably should. You don't see this side through Louis point of view which is understandable, no person can be seen clearly from anothers point of view because really, how would you know, you're not in their minds so you can't possibly totally understand them. After making him look like such a horrible person in Interview there was a chance that people wouldn't have wanted to read a book strictly about Lestat himself. Who would want to read a 500 page book about a character they hate? But Rice took this chance and her powerful writing prevailed, bringing in a wonderful character that has been loved for years.
The Vampire Lestat is much like Lestat himself. It's the bright light after the grim darkness of Interview with the Vampire. He has a certain attitude that reminds me much of myself and friends as we embarked on college. That youth that has never before experienced true life and is excited, maybe a tiny bit scared, to get the adventure going and learn new things.
One could almost assume a life lesson woven through this story. The classic 'be careful what you wish for'. Lestat has his dreams set on leaving his father's land and seeing the world, no longer being poor, being loved by all, acting and he gets that and more some.
Louis returns in this book, even though it's briefly and only at the very end, and he seems to be a much more interesting and happy character when seen through the light of Lestat's eyes. The whiny man that infiltrated the pages of IWTV is gone and replaced with a quiet, beautiful, and relatively content man.
Of course Rice has her characters continuing with an interior battle against what is deemed good and evil and whether or not there is a God. But she handles all of the discussions with such grace and beautiful language that it's an addictive read.
"I realized aloud in the midst of saying it that even when we die we probably don't find out the answer as to why we were ever alive. Even the avowed atheist probably thinks that in death he'll get some answer. I mean God will be there, or there won't be anything at all."
Anne Rice also offers a host of characters that come and go rather quickly with no future mention. In Interview she introduces characters and you always find out what happens to them in the end. But with this novel there are a list of fabulous characters that are introduced and taken away too quickly or never heard of again.
Nicolas and Magnus are two characters I wish I could have learned more of but they both die quickly. Gabrielle is aloof but a powerful woman and someone who would have surely had an interesting storyline. The vampires from the original Theatre des Vampires (Eleni, Laurent, Felix) are mentioned only at the development but when Lestat returns to Paris over a hundred years later they are no where to be found and there is only a brief wondering on Lestat's part as to where they went. All of these characters are all so intriguing but disappear quickly from the Lestat's light. At the very least, Gabrielle comes and goes through the rest of The Vampire Chronicles but she still doesn't get the proper attention for her powerful character.
My memory of the book did not prove me wrong and I'm sure I'll always return to read this book, much like Lestat and Louis return to one another. My fascination never ceases to exist.
"And let me tell you a little secret. It never did pass, really."