YA Book Club: Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’
Continuing on with our May theme of books we read as kids that we probably shouldn’t have, we’re going to tackle Anne Rice’s classic, Interview with the Vampire.
Friends, if you came for campy vampire bashing, you are very much in the wrong place today. I f*cking love vampires. I can’t help it, they are my favorite of the mainstream creepy crawlies that go bump in the night. I will happily watch any dumb vampire movie that comes out, and I unironically and unapologetically love the Twilight movies (the books were too dumb, even for me) which is a story for another day and time. We’re here to discuss the OG vampire series: Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, which was Twilight before there was Twilight, and kicked off a whole slew of Rice penned vampire books.
This was the book to sneak in Jr High. It sent a message that you were edgy and over that kid’s stuff that you consumed when you were a baby, sorry, 6th grader. Which is funny, because it’s kind of a slow read, and definitely starts out sluggishly, if I’m being honest. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. So just what is this book about?
Louis de Pointe du Lac is an indigo plantation owner (which, gross) with a death wish. See, his brother died, so Louis decided he should die too. Logic isn’t his strong suit. Anyway, he seeks out death, and it comes in the form of Lestat de Lioncourt, a vampire with a lonely streak. See, Lestat needs a companion for the afterlife, and he has his sights (and heart, let’s be honest) set on Louis, so he does what any vampire would do in this instance: he turns Louis into a vampire. So that happens. Only Louis is one of those “vegetarian” vampires (sound familiar?!?!) and refuses to eat people (don’t worry, he’ll get over that eventually.) Lestat isn’t, so he starts eating people around Louis’ plantation (which, again, gross) and one thing leads to another, and ultimately, they have to burn the plantation down and murder all of the people there because Lestat’s vampiric ways were raising eyebrows (and dropping bodies.)
So off to New Orleans they go!
So, by this point, a few years of companionship have passed, and Louis realizes he doesn’t really like Lestat. Like, at all. Lestat may be a bloodthirsty vampire, but he’s no dummy. He sees Louis pulling away from him, so he does what any abusive companion would do in this situation: He turns a 5-year-old girl into a vampire, too, to make Louis stay. Her name is Claudia, and she’s their little doll, but also, she’s f*cking ruthless. A chip off the old vampire block, she is!
Here’s the thing when you turn a child into a vampire. They gain life experience, but they never physically age. So as the years go on, Claudia still looks 5 but has the mind of a grown a*s woman. So naturally, she begins to resent Lestat for turning her into an abomination.
Remember how I told you she was ruthless? Yeah. So basically, she attacks the s*it out of him, and leaves him for (vampire) dead and concocts a plan to escape with Louis. Only she doesn’t kill Lestat and he shows up and is angry, because you know, she tried to kill him. So, he tries to f*ck their s*it up, which ultimately results in him being set on fire. Sorry Lestat.
So off to Europe Louis and Claudia go, to search out other vampires and just get away from New Orleans. Only most of the vampires they meet are more zombies than vampires, and they’re generally unimpressed with the lack of culture in European vampire society. That is, until, they get to Paris and meet a freaky cult of Vampires who have some class. Finally!
So basically, these vampires all live in a super old theater, put on plays for humans, and then eat humans on stage, in front of other humans, because that’s their kink. This is the part that stuck out in my mind the most when I read this back in the day, it was quite shocking … and then Twilight copied it for New Moon, so it lost some of its impact this go-round.
Anyway, Louis meets a foxy vampire named Armand, and they start to become really good buddies, if you catch my drift. So Claudia gets upset that she’s getting replaced and demands that Louis turn this dollmaker into a vampire companion for Claudia so she won’t be alone.
So that happens, and if you’re wondering what happens next, let me remind you about Lestat, the vampire that won’t die.
So, he shows up in Paris and has a whole “J’accuse…!” moment where he tells the theatre vampires that Louis and Claudia violated vampire code (which, by the by, is more stringent than bro code) so the vampires sentence both to permanent death. Claudia and her companion are to be burned to death by the sun, and Louis to be locked in a coffin to starve, forever. Only Armand rescues Louis, but they don’t get to Claudia in time. So that happens.
Obviously, Louis is not happy with this turn of events, so he burns the entire theatre and vampire coven to the ground.
Louis is the babysitter, friends.
Anyway, Louis is really bummed out about Claudia’s death, and while he tries to move on with Armand, it doesn’t really work. So, they travel together for a bit and then eventually go their separate ways. He sees Lestat one more time, and that’s about it. Eventually, Louis returns to America and has no problem eating people now, but he prefers to live alone, in the shadows, with no more companions.
Anyway, the whole book is basically Louis, recounting his life’s story to some guy, who at the end misses the entire point, and asks Louis to turn him into a vampire. Louis is like “dude, you missed the entire point! Go away!” So, the book ends with the guy setting off to find Lestat, who he’s pretty sure will turn him into a vampire.
So, upon re-reading this, I’m not sure why we thought it was so forbidden back in the day. Obviously, the plantation and slave content was gross, but in the 20+ years since this book seemed so groundbreaking to me, you can really see how much of its plot has become vampire tropes in the intervening years.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Anne Rice because my grandma always claimed to know her from in the small suburb of Dallas they both lived in back in the day. Grannie was friendly with her step-mother and would relish the opportunity to bring up Anne’s real first name because my Grandma was nothing if not a talker, so I heard that story a lot. Anyway, because of that, it’s hard for me to be objective about the re-read of Interview with the Vampire because it reminds me of my grandma (file that way to talk to my therapist about) and she’s no longer with us.
So, like, I guess it holds up. It also made me want to suck on peppermints and tell people not to be “ugly” if I didn’t like the way they were behaving. Your mileage may vary on that response, though.
We’re capping off the month, and its theme, next week with My Sweet Audrina because I was going to do Coffee, Tea, or Me? but honestly, VC Andrews is the patron saint of sh*t we read as kids but maybe shouldn’t have, so she deserves this double-bill. Until then.
Header Image Source: Knopf Publishing
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