Interview with the Vampire is a definitive tale within the vampire literary canon. Comparing it to many books penned nowadays that deal with our bloodsucking friends is like comparing a fine wine such as a ’74 Château Margaux to, say, a generic bottle of Turning Leaf.
However fond of the cheaper alternative you might be, and however well it might get the job done, it will never do so with the richness, depth and soul of the superior vintage. And on finishing this novel, you reflect and savour on the product which you’ve consumed awaiting eagerly the next opportunity you might enjoy such a work.
Telling of the struggles in life and afterlife of the vampire Louis, his maker Lestat and their eternally childlike companion Claudia, this is compelling stuff indeed. From Louis’s past on a New Orleans plantation and then later in the city proper, it is the tale of a voyage of unnatural discovery, both for the protagonist, and the reporter to whom he regales his story of human become vampire. It’s a case of thrilling intrigue laced with melancholy reflection.
At times the novel veers into brooding psychological and philosophical areas; this is never mindless petulance but rather an honest despair from Louis’s heart. His honest reflections upon the questions raised by his vampire existence are really no different to those that many of us might have on rare occasion, and it is this that makes these moments when he seeks clarity more refreshing than clichéd.
The story itself builds up a steady momentum. As actions force Louis abroad, on his travels he encounters other vampires – other types of vampires too – and yet and still questions beget more questions. Yet it’s not just the rich world and lore that is being crafted which keeps you reading.
Rice’s writing alone is fluid and strong, her subjects never boring or derived but carefully crafted vessels through which she narrates what might as well be a human existence for all its angst and celebration. It subsequently came as no surprise to read that Rice had been struggling with her faith over the years, for such inner turmoil is reflected in Louis, among others, right here in this very novel.
The 1994 film version, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis respectively, is a very good adaptation of the source. It also stars a young Kirsten Dunst, who puts in an amazing performance as Claudia.
Go into any book store today and you’ll see a prevalence of vampire literature. Much of it has fallen far from the tree that Rice seeded with this beautifully written novel of the vampire, their morality and character. It’s a rich work, a classic, and definitely a must read.