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Review: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Saturday, January 31, 2015


The Queen of the Damned
Anne Rice

Genre: Gothic Horror
Paperback: 491 Pages
Publication: October 1989 (originally 1988)
by Ballantine Books



The rock star known as the Vampire Lestat, worshipped by millions of spellbound fans, prepares for a concert in San Francisco. Among the audience are hundreds of vampires, fiends themselves who hate Lestat's power and are determined to destroy him.

The sleep of certain men and women--vampires and mortals scattered around the world--is haunted by a vivid, mysterious dream: twins with fiery red hair and piercing green eyes who suffer an unspeakable tragedy. It is a dream that slowly, tauntingly reveals its meaning to the dreamers as they make their way toward each other, some to be destroyed on the journey, some to face an even more terrifying fate at journey's end.

Akasha, Queen of the Damned, mother of all vampires, rises after a 6,000 year sleep and puts into motion a heinous plan to "save" mankind from itself and make "all myths of the world real" by elevating herself and her chosen son/lover to the level of the gods. 


Review

It seems my magic hats have been on some sort of vampire trend as of late, what with all the vampire books I've drawn for review. I remember trying to read this in high school, but since I hadn't read The Vampire Lestat (which you pretty much have to in order to read this), the bits I did get through didn't make much sense. However, after having read the last two books of the series, I was more than prepared for what would happen in this book. At least, for the most part.

I didn't note this in my last Vampire Chronicles review, but both this book and its predecessor get a little meta. This story takes place in a world where both Interview With the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat are actual books that were published and read by millions. The young reporter who interviewed Louis is a real life author in this world, and the band Lestat forms actually have music videos that play on MTV regularly, hence how the other vampires in the world learned about his existence and rule breaking in the last book. This was something I'd never encountered before, and it made me happy to see how the existence of these books was woven into the current story and how the events retold in them affected the characters.

As was the case with the last book, I loved getting to meet some new vampires, along with seeing some familiar faces. We are formally introduced to Daniel, the boy who spoke to Louis in Interview with the Vampire, and find out what he's done since the book was published and how he came to be involved with the vampires. We meet the women who inspired the Legend of the Twins, Maharet and Mekare, and their descendant, Jesse, who is accompanied with a rather interesting backstory of her own. The interactions between the vampires from previous books, as well as these new acquaintances, were well rendered and made for some great scenes and exchanges.

Even though we've gotten bits in the previous installments, this book expanded even more on the abilities of vampires, as well as their origins. Though there have been instances of a few of the powers vampires have, such as super strength, rapid healing, and mindreading, we get to see even more powers, as well as how some of the vampires discover these abilities. The last book gave us a Sparknotes-version of the beginning of Those Who Must Be Kept, Akasha and Enkil, but here we got all of the details of how they came to be what they are, as well as what they were like before the fateful transformations.

What really interested me about this book was that we got to see both sides of the war. Alternating between Lestat's point of view and those of other characters allowed this to happen pretty well, although there were times when I had difficulty piecing the events that happened to each withing the puzzle of the whole narrative. Since the whole story is essentially bits and pieces Lestat puts together himself afterwards, this was why I had trouble with the layering of the individual stories, but only at first. I know, it sounds kind of confusing, but this book had a pretty complex structure that seems hard to grip in the beginning but makes more sense the further you get into it.

Something that bothered me in the first few sections of the book was the constant mention of the dreams various characters have of Maharet and Mekare. Don't get me wrong, though. The fact that so many different people dream about them builds up the anticipation for the telling of their story, and the payoff was good. But what I didn't like was that it felt like more time was spent with these characters and their confusion as to the meaning of the dreams. One or two of these characters also didn't feel like they really contributed to the plot, so the sections centering on them could've been cut out in my mind.

I also didn't like Akasha's "plan" to better the world. From what we learn about her, the plan can make sense based on what we know about her ideas about certain things. That being said, I actually wanted to know a bit more about what happened to Akasha before she was queen of Egypt; there were brief details about her background as the daughter of another royal family, but none of it was really elaborated on. If maybe there had been a section where we saw things from her own perspective, or some descriptions of events that could've led to her current mindset, we could more easily see the reason behind the madness, if you will. (I know a lot of this sounds kind of vague, but for the sake of not spoiling some good stuff, I have to leave things out.)

Because of all the buildup in the first parts of the book, I was expecting a huge epic battle between the two sides. What we ended up getting was more diplomatic than what previous sections of the book would've led you to believe, but the tension in these moments was really well done, especially when you see how the surviving vampires split themselves up and their reactions to Akasha's schemes. The scene only got better when the action kicked in, but the confrontation felt like it ended too quickly for me. There was a lot of buildup, from the dreams of Maharet and Mekare to the eventual telling of their story, that I was actually disappointed by how quickly the fight was resolved. The conclusion to the confrontation was good and we finally got the meaning behind the dreams, but I would've liked the fight between the vampires to have been drawn out a little more.

The ending to this book has been my favorite so far in the Vampire Chronicles. (Not the end of the fight, but the pages that come after it and serve as a sort of epilogue.) It's more lighthearted than previous endings and feels like it could be the end to the saga. However, it drifts to a close that gives just enough of an impression that the story isn't entirely over yet. Personally, the lightheartedness of the ending was what made it really enjoyable. Since most of the story is told by others, spending the last few chapters with Lestat reminded me of the liveliness of his narrative, not just in this book but also in The Vampire Lestat. Okay, I may have also really liked the ending because it ends with Lestat hanging out with Louis, who happens to be my favorite of the vampires. The chemistry between Lestat and Louis is beautiful, their relationship seemingly better than what it had been in the past, and it's this chemistry that lends its beauty to these last few pages.

Some of you may have heard that there's a film adaptation of this book. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it, but from what I've heard, it wasn't that great. Most complaints stem from the fact that the film tried to adapt both this book and The Vampire Lestat, something which supposedly really upset Anne Rice herself. I've read up on it, and honestly, it sounds like something you could skip. The synopsis sounded like a botched version of this book with a few elements from Vampire Lestat, and this just seems like a recipe for absolute confusion. After having read all three books, I feel pretty confident in saying that they probably should've adapted the second book of the series before jumping into the third.

Though the beginning was a bit slow for my liking, it ended up being a great read overall. The expansion of the vampire universe was great, and the interactions between the vampires were well done also. Rice's writing is as exquisite as it has been in previous books, and maybe a little more lush than usual. Despite setbacks from structure and not spending as much time as I would've liked with the story of the twins and the fight against Akasha, this was a delight to read, and now I'm very curious as to where the next installment in the series will lead.

Rating: 4.5 stars


Series
  1. Interview with the Vampire
  2. The Vampire Lestat
  3. The Queen of the Damned
  4. The Tale of the Body Thief
  5. Memnoch the Devil
  6. The Vampire Armand
  7. Merrick
  8. Blood and Gold
  9. Blackwood Farm
  10. Blood Canticle
  11. Prince Lestat
Similar Books
  • Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  • Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman
  • Sunglasses After Dark by Nancy A. Collins
Content
  • Violence
  • Kissing
  • Touching
  • Scenes with intense homoerotic undertones
  • Graphic depictions of murder
  • Some depictions of mutilation
  • Gore
  • Implied rape

1 comment on "Review: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice"
  1. I believe it's the first time I've seen someone review an Anne Rice novel, which I think is really cool 'cause I love the Vampire Chronicles. I intend to re-read the entire series this year in order to be able to read Prince Lestat. I'm also thinking of reviewing the books as I make my way through them. We'll see how it goes :) Great review!

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