the-queen-of-the-damnedAnne Rice
Ballantine
1988

After several millennia of slumber in a statuesque state, Akasha, the ancient mother of all vampires, has awakened. Imagine the morning breath. She has kidnapped Lestat, killed hundreds of vamps with a mere thought, and is instigating a twisted plan to bring peace on earth in her image by setting herself up as the Godess deity and killing off 90% of the human male population. It’s up to a small band of surviving vampires to stand against their insane mother, to keep her from succeeding in her plot. And caught in the middle is Lestat, who’s music as a rock star awakened Akasha in the first place…

After reading this book, I understand a bit why the fans of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were not exactly pleased with the cinematic rendering of Queen Of The Damned, to understate things a bit. Keeping in mind that the movie took elements from this book and the previous The Vampire Lestat to make one fully underwhelming movie, there were several elements from the novel that were left out, changed for the cinematic version. In short, the fans were pissed off that the makers of the movie dared to not stay completely true to the book.

And since I don’t consider myself that enormous of an Anne Rice vampire geek, I’ll come out and say it- had the film makers decided to make a completely faithful adaptation of Queen Of The Damned, the film would have been an even bigger bore to sit through.

As always, after reading one of Anne Rice’s chronicles of her famed vampire brood, I’m reminded as to why I’m more of a zombie fiend. Zombies tend to get to the point- they lumber around and seek out the living to munch on. At least, the unadulterated Romero zombies do. They don’t spend hours antagonizing over the fact that they’re what they are. They don’t brood, they don’t whine and bemoan their unnatural existence. And zombies certainly don’t spend pages in an existential quandary, waxing poetic on their personal curse.

And that’s what Ms. Rice’s vampire series boils down to: Less a horror fantasy story, and more philosophical discourse as told through the experiences of the ancient blood suckers. Mind you, she does this excellently. Her use of words paint an elegant and detailed picture of the vampire world. The elaborately dark tapestry that is her vampire mythos makes the histories of the undead seem real and palpable.

The thing is, it took me a while to read this. Much longer than usual. Not that it’s boring, mind you, quite the opposite. It’s just that, for ever page of plot movement, there’s at least ten pages of discourse. It took me a while to absorb it all.

In the end, even though I consider the vampires of Anne Rice’s novel to be little more than undead pretty-boy wankers, Queen Of The Damned is one of the better vamp novels I’ve read in a long while.

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