When last the vampire Lestat was seen, he was rising from the dead in present-day New Orleans to walk again among Anne Rice's unforgettable undead. Now Lestat lives again, but in a twilight world of music and memory.
His charismatic friend Louis de Pointe du Lac is tortured by the memory of the child vampire, Claudia, whom he loved and lost. He calls on Merrick, young and gorgeous mixed-race by-blow of the rich New Orleans Mayfair clan. To save Louis' sanity, Merrick must use her black witchcraft to call up the ghost of Claudia - however dangerous this may be. There are other Mayfair spirits who will not lie still, and her search takes her close to the edge, through blood and terror, ritual and violence.
Sweeping from New Orleans to the Brazilian jungle and the island of Haiti, this is vampire literature at its most tantalising, sexy and irresistible.
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With the splendid Merrick, Rice is firing on all cylinders, and this latest volume in the best-selling Vampire Chronicles has all the elements that we expect from her: richly evocative use of locales; flesh-creeping horror (the squeamish should steer clear); rich, operatic characterisation and (most of all) that strange, overwrought prose style which is hers alone. The Vampire Armand ended with Lestat being revived in modern-day New Orleans. But the central character in this new volume is Lestat's friend Louis de Pointe du Lac (who first appeared in the 18th-century France of Interview with the Vampire ), another one of Rice's tortured vampires. Louis is dealing with the memory of the dead child vampire Claudia, to whom he was devoted. But when the Machiavellian organiser David Talbot joins Louis in appealing to the beautiful Merrick (mixed-race daughter of a New Orleans Mayfair clan) to invoke the ghost of Claudia, Merrick's very individual brand of black magic becomes the one thing that can save Louis' sanity. This tampering results in other malign spirits being released, and soon Rice's narrative is knee-deep in bloody mayhem and voodoo.
The novel has the feel of a massive, sprawling canvas, teeming with colour and invention, the locales move from her beloved New Orleans to a colourfully realised Brazilian jungle, and set against this are the larger-than-life characters Rice excels in. Merrick takes a little while to establish herself but when she assumes centre stage, the reader will find the wait well worthwhile. The big set pieces are as gripping as ever (in the usual sanguinary fashion):
Suddenly she lunged at the altar, never letting go of her bottle, and, grabbing the green jade perforator in her left hand, she slashed a long cut into her right arm. I gasped. What could I do to stop her, I thought, what could I do that wouldn't enrage her? The blood streamed down her arm and she bowed her head, lifted it, drank the rum and sprayed the offering on the patient saints once again. I could see the blood flowing down her hand, over her knuckles. The wound was superficial but the amount of blood was awful. Again she lifted the knife...-- Barry Forshaw Review:
"Rice's writing is wonderfully imaginative and as creepily splendid as a hot-house orchid" ( Sunday Times)
"Rice knows what her readers want... she has the knack of touching on our deepest fears" ( Times Literary Supplement)
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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099271486