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Anne Rice
Prince Lestat
Alfred A. Knopf / Random House
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-307-96252-2
Publication Date: 10-28-2014
460 Pages; 196 Pages; $28.95
Date Reviewed: 10-26-2014
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2014

Index:  Horror  Fantasy  Science Fiction  General Fiction

The voice is one that has been with us since many of us were children. Lestat de Lioncourt has whispered to us, he has roared for us; but now it is he who is hearing voices. Or rather, a voice. And we, courtesy Anne Rice, are hearing his. It's a very welcome return.

With 'Prince Lestat' Anne Rice finally pull out all the stops. She fills in the gaps, and brings together the many episodes set in her vision of a world co-inhabited by vampires. Questions are answered, but they lead to deeper and even more knotty threads. This is the book her many readers have been waiting for, and it lives up to its title and the needs of her readers. Anne Rice has finally made her world ours.

With a nod to the fantasy and science fiction genres, both deep strains that are a part of her work, even though she writes charmingly accessible mainstream fiction, 'Prince Lestat' open with a scene-setting "Blood Genesis" and a poetic dictionary of the "Blood Argot" favored by her vampires. Tucked away at the back of the book are handy summaries of just about every damned thing she's written. This is a risky reach. But Rice pulls off all this setup with admirable aplomb. It's beautifully written, and it helps.

Rice has been careful in her past work to delineate the origin of the manuscripts in the Vampire chronicles. The books are real within the world of the books themselves. She plays with story within story, creating arcane documents that map across one another, but have never been particularly serial. With 'Prince Lestat' she aims change that tack, and she succeeds in the course of this novel in tying together the many threads to give us one huge story. It's world-building as page-turning.

The story begins with Lestat hearing The Voice. All too soon it becomes apparent that he's not the only one, but he's more immune to it than others. There's a threat to the world of vampires and the vampires of this world. The scrabbling factions communicate via an Internet radio show and Lestat becomes the go-to choice for leader. As ever, the Bartleby of the vampire world would prefer not to, but he may find his choices shrinking.

Rice tells lots of stories here an plays with current events, the science-fictional nature of her creatures, their religious myths and others while threatening the vampires with a fate worse than being undead. It's a neat trick i you can pull it off, and Rive manages to do so with the same sort of classy, poetic feel that we find in her best work. She's also become much better at giving her novels a more rip-roaring plot. No matter where you left off in the Vampire Chronicles, this is a great place to pick up.

Even if you've never read Rice's work, 'Prince Lestat' gives you enough backdrop to take hold of your imagination. Rice's prose is always gorgeous and her characters subtle and complex. You'll meet new and surprising characters here, explore some engaging moral and scientific dilemmas, and see old characters suddenly thrust into a world of cell phones and social media.

'Prince Lestat' is no simple thriller, though it will keep you awake with some fairly gruesome scenes and a pitch-black sense of humor. It speaks to sequels, but is just what we need now. New blood for old vampires. Science poetry and the technology of magic. Anne Rice need not know magic. She knows story.

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