Fans of Anne Rice will be delighted with Lasher, a convoluted tale about the spirit who wants to be flesh. The novel features characters from Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and her Mayfair Witches series.
In Lasher, a couple who each have an extra set of chromosomes mate, producing a non-human creature. The spirit Lasher enters the embryo which develops physically at super-human speed, leaving its mother hovering on the brink of death. Lasher’s goal is to breed a race of giants who will by their sheer numbers drive mortals from the earth.
From the time of Henry VIII, an organization called the Talamasca has investigated supernatural phenomena. It knows almost as much about Lasher and he knows of himself.
The Mayfair family, whose queen Rowan Mayfair is mother to the Lasher creature, want it destroyed for their own survival. The Talamasca want it preserved for their own study.
Those who haven’t read earlier novels in those sets may be baffled by the first 300 or so pages of Lasher. Rice tells the tale from multiple viewpoints coming from multiple locations over centuries. Some of the names are quite similar, adding to the confusion.
Rice’s story is all story. When you close the book, there’s nothing left.
The Tale of the Body Thief is told by Vampire Lestat, the self-described “James Bond of vampires,” formerly “a smash…as a rock singer.”
Lestat has the blues. The world has deteriorated since he became a vampire: Bloodsucking isn’t what it used to be.
So, when Lestat is approached by a handsome male figure, he wishes he were human again. The animating force inside that body is Raglan James, a telepathically skilled con artist who stole it.
James offers to trade bodies with Lestat for $10 million. Both of Lestat’s friends tell him not to risk it, but he ignores them.
Lestat slips inside the young male body and James goes off inside Lestat’s vampire body.
Lestat finds being human isn’t at all what he expected. He also finds that a deal that sounds too good to be true probably is.
The novel ends predictably, gruesomely.
Anne Rice is a fine writer. She not only has a vivid imagination, but the discipline to confine her imagination within the constrictions set by her characterizations. Her philosophical and theological musings are stimulating. I’d love to see what Rice could do if she applied her talent subjects worthy of her talent.
Imagine a mashup of a novel by Judith Krantz and one by Stephen King and you’ll have an approximation of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour.
Rice begins her story in the present day, when a drowned man is revived by Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon from a family of witches with special powers, who pulls him from the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay.
Michael Curry knows that while dead he was given some task to complete and given some unusual sensory powers. He’s forgotten what the task is and is scared by the powers.
Michael grew up poor, but grew a construction business that has made him wealthy.
By contrast, the Mayfairs are enormously wealthy and have been wealthy for four centuries: Rowan can write a check for two luxury cars on one day more casually than most people would write their monthly check to their electric company.
The duo fall in love and move to New Orleans where both their families have roots and Rowan’s family manages her trust fund.
It’s hard to care about the miseries of the super-rich, and even harder to care about the super-rich who may not even be human. Put their stories in a 965-page novel, and you’ve got a good doorstop.
The Queen of the Damned is the third of Anne Rice’s novels about vampires. Perhaps if one has read the previous two, Queen might be interesting, or at least intelligible.
As a stand-alone, it’s a dud.
The title character doesn’t appear until page 123. Up to that point, the book has been assorted ramblings from various characters living at various times in various places around the world.
Some characters are spirits, some are vampires. Each is totally self-absorbed and incredibly boring.
The main male character is Vampire Lestat, a rock star whose fan’s think “Vampire” is his stage name:
At rock concerts, nobody knows if you’re a vampire.
Lestat’s enemies attack one of his concerts, killing masses of people.
Lestat escapes thanks to the Queen of the Damned, Akasha, who regards him as “the essence of masculinity.” Akasha wants Lestat to join her program for world improvement: She’s going to kill 99 percent of all males, keeping 1 percent for breeding purposes.
While there are some human characters in the novel, they are depicted primarily as great, unwashed masses, fit only as food for non-humans.
Rice includes some of her husband’s poems in the book. They’re better than her story.