Merrick (Vampire Chronicles Series #7)

Merrick (Vampire Chronicles Series #7)

3.8 236
by Anne Rice

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In this mesmerizing new novel, Anne Rice demonstrates once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of myth and magic, as she weaves together two of her most compelling worlds? those of the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair witches.
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In this mesmerizing new novel, Anne Rice demonstrates once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of myth and magic, as she weaves together two of her most compelling worlds? those of the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair witches.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“SPELLBINDING . . . LUXURIOUSLY LUSCIOUS . . . There is the promise of more chills to come.”
–USA Today

“[Merrick’s] greatest strength is Rice’s skill at constructing a believably eerie New Orleans overrun by the charismatic undead and those who wish to join them. . . . Its closing pages prime the stage for the continuing adventures of the beguiling Merrick and her new fanged pals. They will all be back, of course, and Merrick leaves you looking forward to their return.”
–The Boston Globe

–The Seattle Times

“RICE’S PACE HAS RARELY BEEN BETTER. . . . For those already enthralled by Ms. Rice’s witches and vampires, Merrick will strengthen the spell. And for those who haven’t been . . . well, sucked in yet, Merrick proves a worthy initiation.”
–The Dallas Morning News
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Talbot, a vampire familiar to Rice readers, though now inhabiting a different body, relates this eerie tale about an "octoroon of exceptional beauty" named Merrick, a Mayfair witch with whom he has been obsessed for an eternity. The narrative weaves through time--from present-day New Orleans, to Talbot's first meeting with Merrick, to an adventure they shared years ago in the jungles of Guatemala. Flashbacks aside, this story focuses on Talbot's attempt to convince Merrick to use her voodoo magic to conjure up the vampire daughter of his friend and fellow vampire Louis. Fans will recognize characters from past books, including Louis and Lestat. Rice offers a haunting look at the separate but equally intriguing worlds of witches and vampires united here through Merrick's witchcraft on Talbot's behalf. Jacobi's reading of the tale is spellbinding. His refined British tone--with the slightest trace of a classic Transylvanian accent--fits Talbot's character perfectly, and he flavors the narrative with verve and mystery accordingly. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 14). (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
From the Mayfair Witches collection, only The Witching Hour seems to provide much of a coherent story, though the other works have considerable information on Rice's world of witchcraft, spirits, and human-like aliens as well as the Mayfair family of witches itself. The three titles are excellently read by Joe Morton, Lindsay Crouse, and Tim Curry, but it's unclear what the producer was trying to accomplish by arranging the set out of chronological order. The action in Lasher logically follows that of The Witching Hour, which ends describing the relationship of Rowan Mayfair with the spirit Lasher. Taltos seems to be a vehicle to redefine Lasher, killed off in the earlier work, as a demon who assumed the identity of Mr. Ash/St. Ashlar, a nonhuman, nonvampire being whose kind live for millennia. There's a lot of pseudomyth touched up with Catholic or voodoo imagery and laced liberally with incestuous or otherwise taboo sex: a Mayfair dynasty no doubt but with no discernible witchcraft and quite a fixation on the female breast. Horrifying, no, though quite horrible. Merrick, on the other hand, provides the listener with an excellent abridgment, read with great feeling and effectiveness by Sir Derek Jacobi. Though Merrick is a Mayfair and a witch, one will not have had to read a majority of other works Rice has written about the Mayfairs to understand what is happening in this story. Also, along with the myth and voodoo allusions, one actually gets some of what the listener would think of as witchcraft. It's decidedly spooky stuff that also explores Rice's visions of possible afterlives, the mortality of witches, and the virtual immortality of vampires. Acquire Mayfair Witches in this abridged set only if circulation patterns indicate you should. Merrick is highly recommended for adult fiction and horror collections. Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Large arterial heart-piece in Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Though much of the lordly speech ("Oh . . . you foolish, mad, self-important dreamer!") suggests no advance in dialogue since Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur (1880) or H. Rider Haggard's She (1887), Rice opens grandly, reviewing cultural vampirology, its origins and historical underpinnings, in a backstory skimmed from earlier works. Akasha, mother of all vampires and Queen of the Damned (1990), is 6,000 years old when red-haired twins Maharet and Mekare rise up and behead her. Mute Mekare becomes Queen, having taken into herself from Akasha the Sacred Core of blood drinkers. Akasha's destruction liberates Marius, who for 2,000 years kept safe the sleeping bodies of Akasha and her consort Enkil, to tell his story to red-haired Thorne, a Viking given the Dark Gift long ago by Maharet. Too sensitive to kill, Thorne encased himself in an arctic cave for centuries and only now awakens to the modern world. As Thorne listens, Marius describes carrying the royal vampire coffins from Antioch to Rome, seeing Byzantium change into Christian Constantinople, and (skipping the Dark Ages) participating in Italy's glory years of blood and gold, during which he becomes a great painter. For centuries he mourns his beloved Pandora, whom he fled in Antioch. A pair of two-dimensional vampires, angry Mael and tearful Avicus, cling to Marius as he meets the glorious Eastern vamp Eudoxia, who herself has drunk from Akasha. But Eudoxia must die and be replaced by Zenobia, a virginal variation on child-vampire Claudia. Besotted by Botticelli, painter Marius hears Satan whisper, Give Botticelli the Blood. Then Marius loves Bianca the poisoner and the Russian waifAmadeo/Armand. Later turns: Marius is burned by Christian Satanists and tries to win back Pandora. Given her historical antecedents, Rice-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed writes like a damned Queen. Pure vellum in the chronicle. First printing of 750,000; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club/Science Fiction Book Club main selection; Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club/Mystery Guild selection

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vampire Chronicles Series, #7
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.07(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


My name is David Talbot.

Do any of you remember me as the Superior General of the Talamasca, the Order of psychic detectives whose motto was "We watch and we are always here"?

It has a charm, doesn't it, that motto?

The Talamasca has existed for over a thousand years.

I don't know how the Order began. I don't really know all the secrets of the Order. I do know however that I served it most of my mortal life.

It was in the Talamasca Motherhouse in England that the Vampire Lestat first made himself known to me. He came into my study one winter night and caught me quite unawares.

I learnt very quickly that it was one thing to read and write about the supernatural and quite another to see it with your own eyes.

But that was a long time ago.

I'm in another physical body now.

And that physical body has been transformed by Lestat's powerful vampiric blood.

I'm among the most dangerous of the vampires, and one of the most trusted. Even the wary vampire Armand revealed to me the story of his life. Perhaps you've read the biography of Armand which I released into the world.

When that story ended, Lestat had wakened from a long sleep in New Orleans to listen to some very beautiful and seductive music.

It was music that lulled him back again into unbroken silence as he retreated once more to a convent building to lie upon a dusty marble floor.

There were many vampires then in the city of New Orleans — vagabonds, rogues, foolish young ones who had come to catch a glimpse of Lestat in his seeming helplessness. They menaced the mortal population. They annoyed the elders among us who wanted visibility and the right to hunt in peace.

All those invaders are gone now.

Some were destroyed, others merely frightened. And the elders who had come to offer some solace to the sleeping Lestat have gone their separate ways.

As this story begins, only three of us remain in New Orleans. And we three are the sleeping Lestat, and his two faithful fledglings — Louis de Pointe du Lac, and I, David Talbot, the author of this tale.

Chapter One

"Why do you ask me to do this thing?"

She sat across the marble table from me, her back to the open doors of the cafe.

I struck her as a wonder. But my requests had distracted her. She no longer stared at me, so much as she looked into my eyes.

She was tall, and had kept her dark-brown hair loose and long all her life, save for a leather barrette such as she wore now, which held only her forelocks behind her head to flow down her back. She wore gold hoops dangling from her small earlobes, and her soft white summer clothes had a gypsy flare to them, perhaps because of the red scarf tied around the waist of her full cotton skirt.

"And to do such a thing for such a being?" she asked warmly, not angry with me, no, but so moved that she could not conceal it, even with her smooth compelling voice. "To bring up a spirit that may be filled with anger and a desire for vengeance, to do this, you ask me, — for Louis de Pointe du Lac, one who is already beyond life himself?"

"Who else can I ask, Merrick?" I answered. "Who else can do such a thing?" I pronounced her name simply, in the American style, though years ago when we'd first met, she had spelled it Merrique and pronounced it with the slight touch of her old French.

There was a rough sound from the kitchen door, the creak of neglected hinges. A wraith of a waiter in a soiled apron appeared at our side, his feet scratching against the dusty flagstones of the floor.

"Rum," she said. "St. James. Bring a bottle of it."

He murmured something which even with my vampiric hearing I did not bother to catch. And away he shuffled, leaving us alone again in the dimly lighted room, with all its long doors thrown open to the Rue St. Anne.

It was vintage New Orleans, the little establishment. Overhead fans churned lazily, and the floor had not been cleaned in a hundred years.

The twilight was softly fading, the air filled with the fragrances of the Quarter and the sweetness of spring. What a kind miracle it was that she had chosen such a place, and that it was so strangely deserted on such a divine evening as this.

Her gaze was steady but never anything but soft.

"Louis de Pointe du Lac would see a ghost now," she said, musing, "as if his suffering isn't enough."

Not only were her words sympathetic, but also her low and confidential tone. She felt pity for him.

"Oh, yes," she said without allowing me to speak. "I pity him, and I know how badly he wants to see the face of this dead child vampire whom he loved so much." She raised her eyebrows thoughtfully. "You come with names which are all but legend. You come out of secrecy, you come out of a miracle, and you come close, and with a request."

"Do it, then, Merrick, if it doesn't harm you," I said. "I'm not here to bring harm to you. God in Heaven help me. Surely you know as much."

"And what of harm coming to your Louis?" she asked, her words spoken slowly as she pondered. "A ghost can speak dreadful things to those who call it, and this is the ghost of a monster child who died by violence. You ask a potent and terrible thing."

I nodded. All she said was true.

"Louis is a being obsessed," I said. "It's taken years for his obsession to obliterate all reason. Now he thinks of nothing else."

"And what if I do bring her up out of the dead? You think there will be a resolution to the pain of either one?"

"I don't hope for that. I don't know. But anything is preferable to the pain Louis suffers now. Of course I have no right to ask this of you, no right to come to you at all.

"Yet we're all entangled — the Talamasca and Louis and I. And the Vampire Lestat as well. It was from the very bosom of the Talamasca that Louis de Pointe du Lac heard a story of the ghost of Claudia. It was to one of our own, a woman named Jesse Reeves — you'll find her in the archives — that this ghost of Claudia supposedly first appeared."

"Yes, I know the story," said Merrick. "It happened in the Rue Royale. You sent Jesse Reeves to investigate the vampires. And Jesse Reeves came back with a handful of treasures that were proof enough that a child named Claudia, an immortal child, had once lived in the flat."

"Quite right," I answered. "I was wrong to send Jesse. Jesse was too young. Jesse was never — ." It was difficult for me to finish. "Jesse was never quite as clever as you."

"People read it among Lestat's published tales and think it's fancy," she said, musing, thinking, "all that about a diary, a rosary, wasn't it, and an old doll. And we have those things, don't we? They're in the vault in England. We didn't have a Louisiana Motherhouse in those days. You put them in the vault yourself."

"Can you do it?" I asked. "Will you do it? That's more to the point. I have no doubt that you can."

She wasn't ready to answer. But we had made a great beginning here, she and I.

Oh, how I had missed her! This was more tantalizing than I'd ever expected, to be locked once more in conversation with her. And with pleasure I doted upon the changes in her: that her French accent was completely gone now and that she sounded almost British, and that from her long years of study overseas. She'd spent some of those years in England with me.

"You know that Louis saw you," I said gently. "You know that he sent me to ask you. You know that he knew of your powers from the warning he caught from your eyes?"

She didn't respond.

"'I've seen a true witch,' he said when he came to me. 'She wasn't afraid of me. She said she'd call up the dead to defend herself if I didn't leave her alone.'"

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