Anne Rice originally intended Blood Canticle to be the final chapter in her Vampire Chronicles. To me it read less like another Vampire Chronicle and more like Blackwood Farm part 2. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rather liked Blackwood Farm and felt it was a worthy, if imperfect, chapter in the Chronicles. I loved its descriptions of New Orleans and rural Louisiana. I enjoyed meeting a new vampire plagued by mysterious ghosts who struggled to make an existence with his mortal family. However, instead of giving us something new, Blood Canticle remained focused on the goal of wrapping up the loose ends of Blackwood Farm and thoroughly intertwining Anne Rice’s vampires and witches.
Even this focus would have been fine, except that the novel felt uneven. At times, I felt flashes of brilliance in the vampire Lestat’s desire to be a saint, including his musings about the recently canonized San Juan Diego from Mexico, America’s first indigenous saint. At times, though, the book seemed to drag, such as during a long expository scene where Rowan Mayfair and Michael Curry tell us about the Taltos. My sense as I read the novel was that Anne Rice had her mind on other things—perhaps her next book. Although she looked back fondly on Lestat and the Mayfairs, she really wanted to do other things, but had to write this book to fulfill a contract.
Then I looked at the dedication and realized Anne Rice wrote Blood Canticle the year her husband Stan died. Reading a little more deeply, I learned that Stan fell ill after she started writing. He died soon after the novel was completed. Yeah, I kind of think Anne Rice must have been distracted when she wrote Blood Canticle.
In a way, I can relate to this story. I wrote my vampire story “Experiment in Survival” for the anthology Healing Waves while my wife underwent surgery for breast cancer. It kept me from sitting in the waiting room, imagining terrible things that I was powerless to confront. Instead, I imagined a brave samurai warrior battling a spider-like demon who created vampire-like entities. I think the story makes an interesting entry into the whole Scarlet Order mythos, and sales benefit the victims of the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan. You can find copies at Smashwords and Amazon.
Over a decade has passed since the release of Blood Canticle and we now look forward to a new entry in the Vampire Chronicles. I hope the break has rekindled Anne Rice’s interest not only in Lestat but in the vampires Louis, Armand, and Marius. I hope we also get to reacquaint ourselves with some of the newer vampires such as Thorne, Benji and Sybelle, and even David Talbot. I even hope to see a little more of Quinn Blackwood and Mona Mayfair. Although the world has been the vampires’ stage, Anne Rice clearly has a special love for New Orleans and hope she takes us back, at least for a visit. Here’s looking forward to Prince Lestat.