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Interview with the Vampire

Novel by Anne Rice (USA) 1976.

The first book in her epic series of Vampire Chronicles, to be followed by The Vampire Lestat (1985) The Queen of the Damned (1988), The Tale of the Body Thief and Memnoch the Devil (1996); this was later turned into a huge film by Neil Jordan (1994), starring Brad Pitt, Christian Slater and Tom Cruise, a film which she also scripted. All of which goes partway to show its major importance in the horror genre. As Bram Stoker's Dracula spawned countless imitators, so this spawned what has become a growth industry in recent years - the modern vampire novel. From Fevre Dream to The Vampire Tapestry, from Sonja Blue to Anita Blake, all owe an equal debt to these two hugely influential books.

Starting in a dimly lit room in New Orleans, a young man interviews Louis, a 200-year old French American vampire, an interview that will eventually literally change his life. Louis tells him his story, from the early years at his family's plantations in Louisiana, where he became a vampire at the hands of Lestat, the hero of the rest of the Vampire Chronicles but shown to be selfish and shallow here, to a town house in New Orleans; from there with Claudia, made vampire whilst still a child and thus keeping forever her child's physical form, to Eastern Europe and then Paris where they finally meet others of their kind.

This is one of those rare horror novels to be accepted as 'literature', it certainly qualifies both through what it is and what it isn't. Dealing with emotion in immense detail, it is deep, fulfilling and compelling; its story is about love, despair and humanity, and above all about change in all its many guises. It is not about sex, gore or extremes of the sort prevalent in most modern fiction. It is now twenty years old and still it holds its own in power, emotion and depth. 'Salem's Lot moved the vampire novel into modern times, Interview with a Vampire brought back the passion and set the stage for the next generation. Not a patch on its first sequel, but deservedly one of the standards of the genre.

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