Yesterday, I finished reading Blood Canticle, the tenth and final book in Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. It had been about seven years since I read the penultimate book in the series. As a teenager, I was in love with the series. For some reason, I put off reading the last book. It sat on my shelf, pages yellowing. I picked it up a few times, read the first chapter, put it back down…
I had a feeling something terrible was going to befall my beloved protagonist, Lestat. I wasn’t ready for that. Not only that, but the first chapter failed to grip me. And I was worried that my tastes had changed and the writing would fail to impress me.
But I decided recently that I wanted to lay this ghost to rest. To finish the series. I used to love the books so much. It was time.
It took me a little while to get into the novel. Lestat, who had not narrated since the fifth in the series, was rambling and self-obsessed as always. Yet instead of charming me, it annoyed me. Much of the book seemed incoherent and steam-of-consciousness. I couldn’t decide if it was fitting to the character or messy writing.
There wasn’t much of a hook at the beginning. It wasn’t until a third of the way through and the revelation of the mysterious Taltos creatures that my interest was piqued. However, much of the most interesting parts of the plot were relayed through epic discussions between characters, so I felt a lot of the interesting stuff was happening ‘off screen’.
Rice does have many moments of beautiful prose. As always, she’s brilliant inventing imaginative stories and vivid characters. Indeed, the series is incredibly character-driven. In this novel, some of the minor characters are more interesting than Lestat’s supporting cast of Mona (one-dimensional brat) and Quinn (bland and passive) – such as Tante Oscar, who is over a hundred years old and wears three dresses layered on top of each other, and keeps the telephone in the fridge.
In all, however, I felt this book was a bit of a mess. I enjoyed being immersed in Rice’s vampire world and spending time with some treasured characters, but I often found myself bored with the story or frustrated at the tone of the book. I’m sure Rice had done better. I’m sure, despite not having read the other books since I was a teenager, other novels in the series are much superior to this one.
As the last in the series, I was hoping for something more dramatic. Lestat, who has lived through the ages, survived the wrath of the sun, conversed with angels and literally traveled to hell and back… deserved a better series end. In fact, Rice leaves the plot open for a further story, one I suspect she might explore in the Mayfair Witches series (which I’ve not read).
Overall, I love the series, but Blood Canticle deserved to be better.