A reporter gives a vampire the chance to tell his story. Louis describes his distraught mortal years, tortured by the death of his family and goading death for himself. His transformation into an immortal being. His afterlife, and struggling with what immortality would mean for him. Louis tells the reporter how he learned to be a new kind of killer under the tutelage of his maker Lestat, and the family he formed with Lestat and a child vampire named Claudia. Louis and his strange moral compass navigate the perils of vampirism, struggle against Lestat’s assurances that being a vampire is to be a killer, and question a world in which other vampires don’t seem to appear except from the occasional shadow.
What is Interview With the Vampire about?
This first book in The Vampire Chronicles is about Louis, a vampire who offers to tell his story to a young reporter. Louis and the writer sit in a hotel room as Louis explains how his life as a vampire began in Louisiana centuries before, sired by Lestat. Louis explains how becoming a vampire works, how Lestat taught him to utilize the gifts of vampirism, and what gifts Lestat had (that he told Louis about). Louis also describes in great detail his struggle with immortality, his morals, and his thirst for blood. He relates the adventures he and Lestat had in early America including the creation of a vampire child, Claudia, and their later travels to France in search of the vampires Lestat knew there.
Genre: Vampire Fiction
This book could easily fall into the paranormal fantasy, historical fiction, or horror genres but it is just so firmly about vampires that I can’t classify it as anything but vampire fiction.
Tropes: Immortality as a Curse
Believe me when I say I’ve used this book to make a metaphorical argument in Hellenistic philosophy. Louis absolutely has a love-hate relationship with his second life as a vampire and drones on and on about it.
Plot: Louis Whines All Night Long
Personally, I preferred the movie presentation of Louis’ character where there was less whining and fewer deep inner monologues. Louis is a depressed man when Lestat transforms him, so perhaps his melancholy was inevitable.
This book is a classic in its genre. You simply can’t consume modern vampire fiction without seeing some degree of Rice’s influence there, and it’s always good to know your core texts. Louis and Lestat do go on some interesting adventures, and even if Louis sometimes presents situations in the most boring or depressing way possible even that can’t hide how much goes on in this book. The locations, the vampiric encounters, and the various characters are all interesting and well described. This book was incredibly visual and it’s no surprise that something like this was turned into a compelling movie.
Claudia’s plotline is all kinds of nuts. While it is arguably poorly handled in the film, there’s quite a few uncomfortable moments in the book. Luckily those moments are more uncomfortable due to the sympathy Claudia inspires than any kind of subject matter directly; her plight of growing older mentally and forever being stuck as a child is interesting, compelling, and one of the most fascinating parts of vampiric lore in Rice’s world.
Louis is insufferable and paints dramatically evil caricatures of most others in the book. To the point that the following books in the series had to engage in a degree of revisionism because otherwise Louis left no good characters to read about! Louis is depressed and understandably so, but it can be a lot to chew through if you aren’t prepared for that. Watching the movie has a lot less of that gravity to it, so if you’ve seen the film and want to read the book just be prepared for there to be longer bouts of inactivity from the characters.
Just like most classics, this book is in my opinion a crucial part of the vampire fiction genre. Louis and Lestat have a dynamic that has yet to be truly recaptured in the genre, and so many interesting ideas about the vampiric world are introduced by Rice here. You can absolutely see the influence Rice had on the genre in more modern works, and it’s important to pay homage to that. While I find Louis’ monologues depressing and hard to get through, I found the overall plot and the characters interesting enough to temper that. Claudia and Armand in particular have always fascinated me (though Lestat will always come first in my heart).