Anne Rice’s Blood Communion hits shelves today, and everyone’s favorite vampire is back with a Court to run and a story to tell.
It has been four decades since Interview with the Vampire was released and we first read the name Lestat, though he is quick to point out at the beginning of this latest work that he is still sore about the way that Louis told his tale.
“And it was Louis’s outrageous lies about me, intentional and unintentional (some people should not be granted a poetic license),” he explains, “that prompted me to write my own autobiography and tell the secrets of Marius to the whole world.”
Ah yes, our old Lestat is back in fine form, and yet…this may be his most human tale yet. More human than his time, even, trapped in a human body in The Tale of the Body Thief. As fans will remember, this is the third book since Lestat was named Prince of the Vampires, and as Shakespeare penned so many centuries ago, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”
Lestat has begun to question not only why he should be the Prince, but also what it means to be so called, and that struggle and its accompanying doubts makes this quintessential vamp more relatable than he has ever been.
He coins the term “Blood Communion” to denote the growing number of vampires who gather at the newly minted Court to live in peace together without fear of discovery. They have become his family, and family is at the very heart of his tale.
Family is important. Family defines us, makes us stronger, gives us purpose, and yet, as Lestat comes to know all too well, it can test us to the point of breaking when they are threatened and we are powerless to save them.
Rice has honed her storytelling prowess to a fine point. Unlike many authors who have built their own worlds, when she decides to introduce a new character or suddenly give the reader information that we’ve never had before, she takes her time explaining who they are, how they fit, why they’ve never been spoken of in the past.
This process brings these characters more fully realized to her readers, and though we’ve never heard their names, somehow they perfectly weave into the tapestry that she has painstakingly created in these Vampire Chronicles. It almost makes the reader wonder how long she’s known their names before she finds the chance to introduce them to us.
Regardless, it has become the highlight of reading Rice’s books and she does not disappoint in this new novel introducing both bookish and lovable Fontayne and another, far more ancient and powerful, that I will not name to avoid spoilers.
Telling you more than that would spoil the surprise and deny you the joy of meeting them on your own, but believe me when I say that they are well and truly met and are fine additions to Lestat’s ever-growing family.
Rice also proves in Blood Communion that she is not afraid to dangle her readers on a spiderweb over flames in new and frightening ways. There are more genuine moments of horror in Blood Communion than we’ve seen in the last several books.
The Court at Lestat’s chateau has been opened to the entire vampire population of the world. All are welcome, but such a great congregation only reinforces that though they come from every caste and economic class and though many have discovered and cultivated refinement throughout the ages, they are still creatures who live by taking life–as the Roman Marius points out repeatedly to Lestat.
Their rituals are foreign to us, and their call for bloody justice seems archaic and violent. They give in to their primal natures and can become frenzied in their lethal passions calling for punishing wrongdoers and those who would break their laws and peace.
Yet, on any given day our news feed is filled with primal screams for justice and blood, and if we reach into ourselves deeply enough and admit real truth, we are not so far removed from their tribal drums and ecstatic dancing.
Which brings me to a final point in this review. It’s a point that comes with a challenge.
Rice has fondly written over the years of her love of music and on many occasions, includes titles of songs, classical pieces of music, etc. that her characters listen to or experience during important moments or turning points in her novels, and I’ve often found her selections echoing in my mind as I read.
This time, however, rather than relying upon my own fallible human memory, I pulled out my phone, opened YouTube, and played the music she names only to discover that I should have been doing this all along.
(Okay, I started reading her books long before the advent of YouTube and phones with access to it, but you get the idea.)
Therefore, my challenge to you, readers, is that when you reach a moment in Blood Communion where a specific piece of music is mentioned–“Gaudete Christus Est Natus” or “O Fortuna” from Orff’s Carmina Burana, for instance–play the music while you read! I assure you, now that I have experienced it first hand, that each piece of music had to have been chosen with special care.
Blood Communion is available now in stores and via Amazon and other online booksellers. Pick up a copy today!