Quick Review: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCLestat ushers in a new era for the world’s undead

From his meticulously restored ancestral chateau high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat grapples to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming the Undead from far and wide, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

If you’ve been following CR for any amount of time, really, you’ll have noticed how much I like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned are, together, one of my favourite novels (I have to read them together, so they only count as one). In this, Rice’s thirteenth novel in the series, Lestat ushers in a new era for the world’s blood-drinkers as he takes the crown. Continue reading

New Books (September-October)

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Featuring: Jeffrey Archer, Andrew Bacevich, Lou Berney, Jordanna Max Brodsky, Max Allan Collins, Roger Daltrey, DJ Daniels, Sebastien de Castell, Leif Enger, W.L. Goodwater, Greg Grandin, Thomas Christopher Greene, Guy Haley, Yuval Noah Harari, Dave Hutchinson, Eric Idle, Antony Johnston, David Kushner, Mike Lawson, Michael Lewis, Angus Macallan, Kyle Mills, David Thomas Moore, Daniel José Older, Anne Rice, A. Brad Schwartz, Adrian Selby, Harry Turtledove, Alex White, Ben Winters

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Upcoming: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCIn 2014, Anne Rice marked a welcome return to her Vampire Chronicles with Prince Lestat. A long-time fan of the series, I was eager to read more about Lestat, Louis, and the ever-growing cast of colourful characters Rice had created. Then, in 2016, Rice’s Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis dramatically altered our understanding of the undead mythology she had created. This October, the thirteenth novel in the series, Blood Communion will arrive. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

From his meticulously restored ancestral château, high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat is grappling to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming all of the Undead – from far and wide – into his court, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. One enemy in particular, the infamous Rhoshamandes, is notoriously powerful. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, sweeping adventure, full of drama and suspense, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.

It was recently announced that Bryan Fuller has been tapped to run the new TV adaptation of the series, more on which can be found here. Blood Communion will be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, and in North America by Knopf.

Also on CR: Reviews of Prince Lestat and Prince Lestat and the Realm of Atlantis

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review: PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS by Anne Rice (Knopf/Arrow)

RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading

New Books (June 2017)

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Quite some time since I last posted about new books I’ve received, so this is something of a bumper selection. Hope you find something that piques your interest.

Featuring: Brad Abraham, Guy Adams, Alan Alda, Sam Bourne, James Bradley, Adam Brookes, Terry Brooks, Melissa Caruso, Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder, Jack Ford, Jeffrey Ford, Dana Fredsti, John French, David Burr Gerrard, Lee Matthew Goldberg, Allegra Goodman, A.J. Hartley, Grady Hendrix, Jon Hollins, Joseph Kanon, Ann Leckie, Fonda Lee, Edan Lepucki, Attica Locke, Gail Z. Martin, Emma Newman, Jeff Noon, Lauren Oliver, Melissa F. Olson, Kathy Reichs, Anne Rice, Anthony Ryan, Brian Thomas Schmidt (ed.), Anna Smith Spark, Ferrett Steinmetz, Neal Stephenson, Jonathan Strahan (ed.), David Walton, Angus Watson, Aliya Whiteley, Don Winslow, Kenneth Womack

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New Books (September-October)

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Featuring: André Alexis, Federico Axat, Adam Baker, James Benmore, Hayley Campbell, Peter Ames Carlin, Lincoln Child, Greg Cox, Bryan Cranston, Sady Doyle, Dave Duncan, Ruthanna Emrys, Valentina Giambanco, Peter Heller, Brian Jay Jones, Richard Kadrey, Helen Keen, Stephen King, Ellen Klages, Mark Lawrence, Tom Lloyd, David Mark, Joe M. McDermott, Peter McLean, Kate Moretti, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Joyce Carol Oates, Douglas Preston, Jason Rekulak, Simon Reynolds, Anne Rice, Tony Robinson, Jonathan Safran Foer, Chris Sharp, J.P. Smythe, Bruce Springsteen, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Jess Walter, Sam Wilson, Lidia Yuknavitch

Above image: The Hunt #3 by Joana Lafuente & Colin Lorimer (Image)

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Review: PRINCE LESTAT by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-PrinceLestatUK2The Vampires Return…

The vampire world is in crisis – their kind have been proliferating out of control and, thanks to technologies undreamed of in previous centuries, they can communicate as never before. Roused from their earth-bound slumber, ancient ones are in thrall to the Voice: which commands that they burn fledgling vampires in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco. Immolations, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world.

Who – or what – is the Voice? What does it desire, and why?

There is only one vampire, only one blood drinker, truly known to the entire world of the Undead. Will the dazzling hero-wanderer, the dangerous rebel-outlaw Lestat heed the call to unite the Children of Darkness as they face this new twilight?

Few novels have had as much of a lasting impression on me as Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned. I have read them so many times, now. I have, of course, also read the other novels in the Vampire Chronicles. It was with considerable anticipation, then, that I started this long-awaited new novel. It did not disappoint. An ambitious expansion of the existing mythology, and an engrossing update to the lives of Lestat and the undead tribe. Continue reading

New Books (October)

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Featuring: Neal Asher, Paolo Bacigalupi, Marie Brennan, Genevieve Cogman, Brian Cox, William Gibson, Mira Grant, Kate Griffin, John Grisham, Nicholas Kaufmann, Jasper Kent, Stephen King, Ben Lerner, Peyton Marshall, Mark Charan Newton, Anne Rice, Justin Richards, Sebastian Rotella, Patrick Rothfuss, John Sandford & Michele Cook, Wilbur Smith, Edward St. Aubyn, Sam Sykes, Kazuaki Takano, Lynne Truss, John Twelve Hawks, Simon Unsworth, Debbie Viguie, SJ Watson

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Upcoming: PRINCE LESTAT by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus)

RiceA-PrinceLestatUK2Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles remain some of my favourite novels – as I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times already on CR, I consider The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned among my top five favourite novels (as one selection – they have to be read together). It was with much excitement, therefore, that I saw that Rice was returning to the series after 11 years away – 2003’s Blood Canticle was the last novel until now. As with any long-running series, it had its ups and downs, and while certain elements of the later novels didn’t work for me, I nevertheless eagerly purchased and read them on their publication days. Prince Lestat will be no different, I’m sure (unless I can get a review copy…). Here’s the synopsis:

The vampire world is in crisis – their kind have been proliferating out of control and, thanks to technologies undreamed of in previous centuries, they can communicate as never before. Roused from their earth-bound slumber, ancient ones are in thrall to the Voice: which commands that they burn fledgling vampires in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco. Immolations, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world.

Who – or what – is the Voice? What does it desire, and why?

There is only one vampire, only one blood drinker, truly known to the entire world of the Undead. Will the dazzling hero-wanderer, the dangerous rebel-outlaw Lestat heed the call to unite the Children of Darkness as they face this new twilight?

Anne Rice’s epic, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious new novel brings together all the worlds and beings of the legendary Vampire Chronicles, from present-day New York and Ancient Egypt to fourth-century Carthage and Renaissance Venice; from Louis de Pointe du Lac; Armand the eternally young; Mekare and Maharet; to Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the Secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true child of the Millennia. It also introduces many other seductive supernatural creatures, and heralds significant new blood.

Prince Lestat is due to be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, on October 30, 2014; and in the US by Knopf, on October 28th, 2014. Below are the US and earlier UK covers (according to the author’s Facebook page, the latter has been replaced by the image at the top of this post):

RiceA-PrinceLestat

Reviews, Debuts, Vampires, A Different Time…

Rice-InterviewWithTheVampire1I have been a fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles ever since I picked up Interview with the Vampire in 1999. I was living in New York at the time, and I went to Barnes & Noble on 51st & Lexington (in the CitiCorp Building), and came across the series. Even though I hadn’t read any of the novels, by this point I had seen the movie, starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, and a scene-stealing Kirsten Dunst. I really enjoyed it (and still do), so I thought I’d give the series a try. I proceeded to read all of the volumes then in print, and then bought each new book on day of release.

I didn’t think the first novel was perfect, and I found the fact that it was written as a conversation slightly strange – I was young and not very well-read or refined at the time. Nevertheless, it planted the seed that has had me eagerly await any new book by Anne Rice ever since. I consider the first two sequels, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned, as one of my five favourite novels of all time (I can’t read one without immediately reading the next, so I consider them as a single book).

Time to get to the point of the post: I have also been reviewing books for almost seven years, and movies and music for a few years more than that. I therefore found this post on Anne Rice’s Facebook feed, attached to a link, rather interesting:

Interview with the Vampire was actually a flop when it was published, severely hurt by a negative New York Times review by Leo Braudy. I’m not sure a review can kill a book today. But this was 1976, a different world. And a first novel, especially a very unusual one, was I think tragically vulnerable to the power of the Times… Now 37 years later Interview is (I’m grateful to say) an unqualified success and is still in print in hardcover as well as in paperback…

Rice-InterviewWithTheVampire2Sadly, the review is behind the New York Times pay-wall (which I still couldn’t read, despite supposedly having access to a specific number of articles per month…). Nevertheless, and perhaps a little strangely, Barnes & Noble’s listing for the book has the following quotation from Leo Braudy, apparently from “Books of the Century, The New York Times, May, 1976”:

“Anne Rice’s publishers mention the Collector and the Other, but it is really The Exorcist to which Interview with the Vampire should be compared, and both novelist William Peter Blatty and filmmaker William Friedkin, whatever their faults did it much better… The publicity tells us Rice is a ‘dazzling storyteller.’ But there is no story here, only a series of sometimes effective but always essentially static tableaus out of Roger Corman films, and some self-conscious soliloquizing out of Spider-Man comics, all wrapped in a ballooning, pompous language.”

I thought it was interesting that Rice said she’s “not sure a review can kill a book today”. I think she’s probably right. Not only is the internet allowing critiques, criticism and praise to spread all over the world, but also the fact that negative reviews only seem to generate extra interest in books. Take two (admittedly unusual) examples: 50 Shades of Grey, or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (which got, effectively, a bad review from the Vatican = publisher’s Holy Grail).

I also think Braudy is wrong his statement that “there is no story” in the novel. There’s quite a lot, actually. Yes, it’s “static”: it’s a book-length interview. What was he expecting? I don’t understand the Spider-Man connection, but it stands out, no? I don’t know the other references he presents, so I can’t speak to those. The connection to The Exorcist is an interesting one, but I don’t know either the book or movie version of that story well enough.

I’m sure this would have been a more interesting post if I’d had access to the review, but there we go [and if I hadn’t been writing it during a bout of insomnia, at 3:30am]. I’ll keep trying to get the text, and see if it adds anything to the discussion. Or, at the very least, offer some interesting quotations from it as/when I find them.

What do you think? Can negative reviews kill books today? If not, why not?