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Book review: Anne Rice’s “Beauty’s Kingdom”

To be clear, 50 Shades is a very, very different animal from any of Anne Rice’s Beauty books.

I’ve talked about how I used to be a big Anne Rice fan before, and that fan worship certainly extended beyond her vampires and witchcraft books. It was a little difficult for me to work through The Feast of All Saints, but I did have a great time reading ViolinBelinda, and her BDSM books – Exit to Eden, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release.

These non-supernatural books all have the sensuality that made Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles famous, and more often than not are much more explicit than any of Lestat and his cohorts. After all, Belinda is a riff on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, while Exit to Eden, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release all became a hit with the BDSM community at the time – something you can’t say about 50 Shades.

But that was literal decades ago, and Anne Rice has had a roller-coaster of a career since then. If Prince Lestatis anything to go by, it looks like she may be getting her vampires back in line. But can the same be said for her erotica? The last book in her Sleeping Beauty series came out in 1985, Belinda came out in 1986, and bookstore shelves have so much more erotica now than they did back then. Does Rice still have what it takes to compete in a much more crowded field?

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Book review: Anne Rice’s “Prince Lestat”

Anyone who’s known me long enough knows that I was a pretty big The Vampire Chronicles reader back in the day. During my sometimes hours-long commute from Pasay to Manila and vice versa, I would have Interview with the Vampire open on my lap, reading it eagerly and feeling a thrill at how intimate these creatures would be with each other. The fact that the main players were both male appealed a lot to me, and the fact that they were so “Woe is me!” appealed to the overdramatic teenager in me.

The next two books that followed built on Interview with the Vampire in ways that I didn’t expect. It’s clear to anyone that The Vampire Lestat is an entirely different creation, and The Queen of the Damned is definitely a high point, with a sprawling history for the Undead all laid out and royal intrigue and machinations that would satisfy any plot-hungry reader.

I was such a fan that I stuck around even as it slowly became apparent that the books were no longer hitting the same high marks that The Queen of the Damned did. I slogged through Pandora, trudged through Blood and Gold, and even convinced myself that Blood Canticle was better than it actually was.

But despite all that, I couldn’t help but feel more than a little excited hearing that announcement that Anne Rice was going back to The Vampire Chronicles, telling another story with Lestat as the main focus and no longer the sideshow that he was in books previous. I’d grabbed a copy as soon as I saw one in my neighbourhood National Book Store, and I began reading it more than a little anxious as to what I would think about it.

Continue reading Book review: Anne Rice’s “Prince Lestat”