Lestat is back with a vengeance and in thrall to Rowan Mayfair. Both demon and angel, he is drawn to kill but tempted by goodness as he moves among the pantheon of Anne Rice’s unforgettable characters. Julien Mayfair, his tormentor; Rowan, witch and neurosurgeon, who attracts spirits to herself, casts spells on others and finds herself dangerously drawn to Lestat; Patsy, country and western singer, who was killed by Quinn Blackwood and dumped in a swamp; Ash Templeton, a 5,000 year old Taltos whose genes live on in the Mayfairs. Now, Lestat fights to save Patsy’s ghost from the dark realms of the Earthbound, to uncover the mystery of the Taltos and to decide the fate of Rowan Mayfair. Both of Anne Rice’s irresistible realms – the worlds of Blackwood Farm and the Mayfair Witches – collide as Lestat struggles between his lust for blood and the quest for life, between gratification and redemption.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Anne Rice’s novels, there are two major series: one about vampires starring the Vampire Lestat, and the other about a family of witches. The Vampire Lestat has always been the star of the Vampire Chronicles, creating new vampires, finding the original two vampires, losing his vampire body to a mortal, and journeying to Heaven and Hell.
Elements and characters from many of Rice’s previous books come together in her new novel, which picks up where her previous one, Blackwood Farm (2002), left off. This time, popular antihero Lestat is the narrator, and he’s become obsessed with becoming a saint. As a vampire, the option isn’t really open to him, but the desire to be good nags at him. He wrestles with the decision of whether or not to change the dying Mona Mayfair, the love of newly made vampire Quinn Blackwood, into a vampire. He finally gives in and changes her, despite the wrath he knows her family will feel when they learn she is a vampire.
Rowan Mayfair, who was Mona’s doctor when she was sick, immediately captivates Lestat when she arrives at Blackwood Farm demanding to see Mona. When Rowan’s own secrets threaten to drive her insane, her husband, Michael, comes to Lestat, begging him to help her. Deeply in love with Rowan, Lestat agrees, and upon his visit to Rowan, he learns she and Mona share a secret. Both gave birth to Taltos children–an ancient species that evolved separately from humans but can occasionally mate with them.
The Mayfair Witches stories involve a rather inbred family of Louisiana witches, who, when certain family members meet, create what is known as the Taltos, a child who unfolds to a full adult upon its birth, knowing its name and the full history of the Taltos, also leaving its human mother unable to bear more children.
Mona’s daughter was taken from her by a Taltos man, and she wants to track her down. Lestat boldly agrees to help her. Though a lot of elements from Rice’s previous novels play into this one, new readers won’t be lost and old ones will enjoy how the different threads come together.
In Blood Canticle, the story begins with Lestat “saving” the dying Mayfair witch Mona, the most recent bearer of a Taltos. Mona has been dying in a hospital for two years. Of course, before we even get to the plot itself, we are subjected to an over-colloquialized raving from Lestat (who narrates the Chronicles) about his desire to be a saint. And visit the Pope. And be worshipped. *sigh*
Lestat now fantasizes about being like Saint Juan Diego and chatting with the Pope
Once Mona is made a vampire, we meet Rowan Mayfair, the de facto head of the Mayfair witches and Mayfair Medical, a huge sprawling complex of medical services and research. Rowan bore her own Taltos, a child possessed by the spirit who haunted the Mayfair House, Lasher. For over 100 pages, the reader is held at bay to hear the story of Rowan and Mona and the Taltos, which any devoted reader of the Mayfair Witches stories already knows.
Of course, Lestat falls in love with the human Rowan, and in the course of helping Mona and Rowan find out what happened to the remaining Taltos (Mona’s daughter Morrigan and the centuries-old “purebred” Taltos Ash who Rowan met in the Mayfair stories), he rids Mona’s cousin Quinn’s farm of Quinn’s mother’s ghost (Quinn killed her in the previous Chronicle, Blackwood Farm), contacts Maharet, know the “ruler” of the Vampires, kills druglords and finds out the fate of the Taltos.
Rice can never seem to find Lestat’s voice in the course of this novel, and he goes back and forth from sounding like a ranting raving teenager to the cultured and demanding Lestat we know from Interview with the Vampire, to some crazy hormones-raging young adult. At points, Lestat, who has always been enamored with new things, acts like he’s about to join the Society for Creative Anachronism and ignore all new technology by refusing to learn how to email.
Rice also can’t seem to find the character of Mona anywhere in this book. The Mona we met in the Mayfair books was a child genius. She was sexually precocious, but at the same time, almost a small adult. In Blood Canticle, Mona is a vacuous slut, flitting about almost willy-nilly, crying at the drop of a hat, baiting Lestat, and wearing odd slutty clothes that belonged to Quinn’s Aunt Queen. The Mona Mayfair that Mayfair Witches fans knew and loved is gone.
I also did not like how Rowan fell for Lestat. I did not believe their “lovestruck” obsession until the end of the book in the last chapter when the attraction was beautifully expressed, but at the same time should it have even existed in the first place? What about Michael? I really liked him and he is just a shadow in this book- a doormat. At times it seemed like there were too many characters in the scenes, overcomplicating the plot and robbing their development. I could keep going on, Patty, the Ghosts, the search, but it all boils down to that this book was too short. Blood Canticle was supposed to be about Lestat’s redemption by not being selfish in the act of turning Rowan over to the blood, it could have worked, I would not have been as peeved at Michael’s neglect, Rowan and Lestat’s romance would have been more believable, IF ONLY IT HAD BEEN LONGER!