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“And you did get into the coffin?”

“I had no choice. I begged Lestat to let me stay in the closet, but he laughed, astonished.”

Confession time folks. It’s my birthday in ….ooh, six hours. So my wife and I treated ourselves to a nice bottle of Verdelho mid-way through my reading of this book. I am slightly tipsy.

That being said, I think I’m in the perfect position to review this book. It is, after all, a bit dull.

Sorry this review seems to have started early. Let me take a moment to explain the plot.

Louis is the son of  a wealthy French family, with a Louisiana plantation near New Orleans to his name. He feels bowed down by guilt after spurning his younger brother’s religious visions, compelling the family to sell their property in America and return to France to fight the revolutionary scourge of anti-monarchist atheists. When his brother dies mysteriously, Louis refuses to reveal to his mother and sister that madness was the cause of his death. He confesses this to a priest, who blithely dismisses his brother’s religious ecstacy as the result of possession by the devil.

This leaves Louis primed for seduction by the vampire Lestat. Callous, profligate and in need of property, the vampire chooses him in order to gain access to his wealth and status. While Lestat has the appearance of a man of style, he has no head for money. Louis, in effect, once transformed into a vampire becomes manager of his sire’s financial affairs, investing the monies stolen from his victims astutely to provide for them. Immortality has its own challenges, such as a ready access to capital.

Eventually he begins to tire of Lestat’s vain and selfish behaviour, and seeks to go his own way. The two vampires become rivals, with the latter deciding to transform a five-year old girl into a proxy daughter for their undead family.

“I want a child tonight. I am like a mother…I want a child!”

Claudia becomes a companion to Louis, encouraging him to investigate the origins of vampires. They travel to Europe, discovering only haggard  revenants, with the secret of a vampire retaining any semblance of a conscious self seemingly an accident of Lestat’s invention. Until, that is, they come to Paris and find the famous Théâtre des Vampires.

I am sorry to say I did not enjoy the experience of reading this book at all. It is incredibly frustrating. At times Rice‘s plot fascinates – Louis’ ruminations on damnation inform an interesting perspective on religious faith; his relationship with Lestat is reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s tortured association with Henry Irving – only for these passages to give way to interminable ramblings on the pain and suffering of life as a vampire. It is not even internally consistent. Rice establishes that the undead are perfect beings, preserved in time having expelled any human functions upon the moment of conversion. Then there is a passage when Louis is described “defying the sweat which had broken from every pore”.

Of course I have not mentioned the ‘interview’, of the title. Louis, it turns out, has approached a young man, referred to throughout as a ‘boy’, to record his testimony as to his existence as a vampire. With the religious subtext of the book, this interview comes to resemble a secular confession. One of the highpoints of the novel is Louis’ confrontation with a priest. Disillusioned after years of living in fear of damnation, he finds himself standing in a church, gazing at the marbled statues of saints and heavenly powers. Suddenly he realizes the pomp and decadence of the Catholic Church and takes out his frustration on the priest present. It’s a rare moment of passion in amongst the mumbled misery and depression of this novel, a sign of how powerful Rice’s themes could be if applied properly.

As for Lestat, the hero of a number of Rice novels, he appears to be nothing more than a vain, vulgar and impudent child. I have no desire to read another book describing his adventures.

A sad disappointment overall, frustrating and for the most part, quite boring.

So I’m a Vampyre. Spelled with a Y instead of an I. Capitalized like it’s a name. Don’t ask me, just tradition I guess. Anyway Vampyre with a Y, that’s the real deal. With an I, that’s for scaring babies.

I’m the kind that scares everyone.

So here we are. Emmet’s breaking his own rules again. One of the conditions I took on as a book reviewer was that I would not read the same author more than once. I definitely would not follow up on a series. Now I have cheated on this before – Michael Moorcock has featured more than once. But I am throwing caution to the wind with this one.

My Dead Body is the final book in Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Casebook’s series. I reviewed the penultimate book a few months ago. When I saw the last Joe Pitt adventure on the library shelf, I could not stop myself from snapping it up.

Our Vampyre hero got into a spot of bother in the last book. For one he has burned his bridges with every clan leader and gang in Manhattan island’s supernatural underworld.  How he managed this impressive feat, apart from being overly fond of running his mouth off, was by discovering that the largest organised group of Vampyres, the Coalition, has a very ugly secret behind its inexhaustible stock of human blood. Rather than act on this information, he made sure everyone else found out and then walked into the sewers under the city to wait out the inevitable war.

Now an old friend has tracked him down, claiming to have been sent by the estranged love of his life Evie. He passes on a message from her, that he has to do something, take a stand in this conflict he set off between the clans. She also wants him to track down a young couple who have run away. His friend Chubby Freeze is the father of the girl, whose fascination with vampires led her to find one and wonder of wonders, they fell in love. In an added twist, she has become pregnant by her Vampyre lover.

Turns out rival Vampyre gangs the Coalition and the Society have decided this couple are too important to run free. A human/vampire hybrid represents a threat, as it could expose the secrecy they live beneath. It also offers an impossible future to the community, one that represents an incredible amount of power if a party were to control these two young people.

Then add the increasingly disturbing experiments of genius scientist Amanda Horde on the ‘Vyrus’ and you have a potential powderkeg of pent-up violence bubbling away. One entirely of Joe’s making.

Huston ably builds events to a gripping climax, referencing the events of the previous four books to show how much of this last book was seeded from the very beginning. One of the real pleasures of the series is Joe’s own no-bullshit attitude and the quick dialogue. For the sake of contrast, Huston has the pregnant vampire bride Delilah insist on roleplaying even in the midst of a massacre. Her dialogue is laugh out loud funny and possibly a dig at Stephenie Meyer/Anne Rice’s expense.

Joe Pitt suffers, a lot, in these books and in My Dead Body the amount of damage he goes through triples. This night riffs on noir fiction as a vampire protagonist can presumably suffer an even more ridiculous degree of suffering.  His sardonic narration acts as a counterpoint to the pain the character feels, letting the reader know that as extreme as this material might seem, it is meant to be entertaining.

I had a great time reading these books. Check out the Joe Pitt Casebooks for yourself.

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