When Anne Rice announced she’d be releasing an 11th book in her Vampire Chronicles, more than a decade after the 10th installment Blood Canticle, her fans collectively took to their fainting couches. And when she went on to say that the book would breathe life (of the undead variety) back into her petulant, decadent, and totally mesmerizing character Lestat de Lioncourt, smelling salts were required to bring us back to consciousness. Could this be a trick? A rumor? A game Rice was playing? Thankfully, no to all three: in Prince Lestat, her most famed creation is back, and better (and badder) than ever before.
In Prince Lestat, vampirekind is in a panic: a mysterious voice is speaking to them, demanding they cull their numbers with vampire mass murder. Lestat’s brothers of the blood have no one to turn to but Lestat himself, who could either save them…or end up dooming them all. As he’s unwillingly dragged into 21st-century vampire politics, he remains fully himself—for better or for worse—making him the least likely and most interesting protagonist around. This book is jam-packed with history, adventure, and insight into the contemporary vampire. The list of reasons you should read it are endless, but here are our top six:
1. Its dark antihero
We’ve come to expect our literary vamps to be moody types, tortured blood-suckers who can’t accept what they are and loathe the taking of life. Lestat will never fit into that category, and we’re grateful. His complex worldview sets the stage for unapologetic violence that leads to the kind of daring and riotous climax Rice fans have come to expect. And here she introduces a side of Lestat we’ve never seen before: the brat who grows up to be a prince. While remaining true to himself, Lestat embarks on a compelling interior journey on his way to aiding his fellow vampires.
2. Its up-to-date take on modern vamp life
Rice’s vampires may be ancient, but they’re tech savvy, too. Benji, a hipster king of both the human and vampire scene in New York, reaches out to his brethren by way of a regular podcast, possibly the first in literary vampire history. And in case you forgot about Lestat’s foray into the world of superstar rock ‘n’ roll celebrity in The Queen of the Damned, he makes it clear from the get-go that he’s still a music buff. Prowling the streets of New York and elsewhere, he’s got his earbuds in and rock blasting. Same old Lestat, new crop of talented bright young things catching his eyes and ears.
3. The spotlight on supernatural civil war
Most of our favorite vampire books and movies build up suspense around the possibility that humans will discover the vampire world. In Prince Lestat, humans are an afterthought (albeit a delicious one) to the civil war unfolding within the vampire community. The war is spurred on by a mysterious Voice quietly urging vamps to destroy their fellows, a creepy and hard-to-fight foe if there ever was one. It’s a terrifying premise that makes for epic storytelling.
4. Its revival of old favorites
Although it’s 11 years since last we entered Rice’s richly imagined world, she’s definitely made it worth the wait. Not only is the story finely crafted, but it brings back all our favorite vamps of yore: Armand, Jesse, David, and Seth are just a few familiar characters who return, so vividly rendered it’s as if they never left.
5. Vamp science!
It used to be that the vampires who populated Rice’s mythos were all poets, singers, writers, and other artists. But now science is playing an epic role in her world, which opens up thrilling new narrative possibilities. Without giving too much away, we’ll just say that vampire reproduction is explored…and it is awesome.
6. The continuation of the legend
Rice’s vampire world was already expansive and rich, but this book opens it up still further. Rice takes us back in time, not just into verifiable ancient history, but into her own well-wrought, deliberate, and meticulously crafted vampire mythology. By the time you’re done reading the novel, you’ll almost believe her version of the world is the real one—and you’ll want to read every book in the Vampire Chronicles all over again, just to follow the full journey of Lestat.