This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
In retrospect Interview With the Vampire is a bit of an oddity among Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Whilst subsequent books are absolutely in love with the figure of Lestat, going out of their way to make him into a Byronic antihero, the vampire being interviewed here is Louis, a former New Orleans plantation owner who was dragged into vampirism by Lestat back in the 18th Century and who in his narration clearly thinks of Lestat as an abuser. Whereas later books in the series are positively obsessed with arcane vampire backstory and the sort of lore explored in Queen of the Damned, this introduction to the series has none of that – Lestat and Louis know very little about the wider world of vampirekind and don’t learn an enormous amount during the novel.
What you get instead of all that mythology jazz, then, is an existential exploration in astonishingly purple prose. Louis is thrust into an existence he didn’t ask for and which nobody can adequately explain to him, and a life in which he would rather not hurt others to perpetuate his existence but often finds himself doing so anyway. That’s undeath for Louis, but it’s also life for all of us.
Where I get off the bus is the part where Lestat bullies Louis by turning a five year old girl that Louis had become fascinated with, Claudia, into a vampire – or rather, the aftermath of that. Lestat and Louis end up adopting her as a creepy quasi-daughter, and her response to becoming a vampire is to adapt to that gruesome lifestyle creepily fast. Since she’s a vampire, she can psychologically mature but will never physically grow up, so in subsequent section of the novel she’s this deeply disturbing killer whose appearance as a small child is a mere facade for immortal horror.