Often considered to be the second most influential vampire novel of all time, Interview with the Vampire is likely to retain its crown in spite of the steady stream of vampire romance, such as the Twilight saga and the True Blood series, that continues to fill our bookshelves. When she wrote the novel, Anne Rice overturned the traditional view of the vampire, held since Bram Stoker's Dracula. Long considered the dark and dangerous outsider, Rice gave the vampire a voice: the hero is no longer the vampire hunter, but the vampire himself. Whether you consider the sympathetic and morally tortured Louis, or the sexy and exciting Lestat, Rice's vampires are accessible, desirable and extremely vocal. 

Although at times Rice is guilty of slight over-writing, her rich, luxuriant prose strongly evokes the sumptuous chambers and elegant clothes of the period. Her writing is vivid and effective, yet concise enough to fit a plot spanning almost two hundred years into just 368 pages. She followed this novel with the successful The Vampire Lestat, eventually writing a series of twelve books which made up The Vampire Chronicles. All have been popular, but none have matched the originality and immediacy of Interview with the Vampire.

The 1996 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire brought refreshed interest to Rice's creations, with high-profile actors Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise taking the roles of Louis and Lestat respectively. Although the film lacks some of the characterization which Rice achieves so fully in her book, visually it is a faithful representation of much that she describes.

Rice's child vampire Claudia remains one of the most chilling creations in modern literature, challenging preconceptions of innocence and purity, whilst her descriptions of the "animated corpses" during Claudia and Louis's trip to Eastern Europe neatly clear up any discrepancies between her sophisticated vampires and the creatures of folklore. Her vampires are Byronic, romantic figures, darkly sensual and dangerous to know.

Despite the recent surge in popularity of vampire fiction, Interview with the Vampire deserves to keep its prominent role: as "vegetarian" vampires become fashionable, it is refreshing to return to Lestat, Louis and Claudia, and remind ourselves what real vampires are all about.

 

Other Reviews

"The second most influential vampire novel of all time." - The Times

"Thrilling... A strikingly original work." - Washington Post

"Compulsively readable." - Chicago Tribune