Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice
I have always been a big Anne Rice fan – after I saw the film ‘Interview with the Vampire’ when I was only just in double figures, I fell in love with the characters Louis and Lestat and it wasn’t long before I was reading the books –I grew out of children’s books fairly quickly and these books were probably the transition from children’s to adults. I have to be honest – having finished the entire Vampire Chronicles this year, I was disappointed. Frankly, Rice lost her touch in the later books – more specifically, the last three bar Blood and Gold which was one of her best. The books I’m referring to are Merrick, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle and they’re spoilt by the fact Rice incorporates her other series The Mayfair Witches into The Vampire Chronicles. This spoilt them for me and all three of those books mentioned were utter trash – particularly the finale – and I was saddened at such a poor end to a brilliant series of books. When Lestat starts becoming a soft touch and starts getting very religious – they’re not worth reading anymore.
All of that said, Vittorio the Vampire was a re-kindling of the old flame that Rice had. Technically, this novel isn’t part of the original series; it is instead a New Tale of the Vampires but it was thrilling to read Rice at her best again.
We are introduced to a completely new character called Vittorio who is living in a rural area of Italy not too far from Florence. He is the oldest of three children – he’s made out to be around sixteen years of age – and his father is a lord of sorts and he lives well in a castle surrounded by the villagers who live both in the castle walls and outside them. Once we have been introduced to the setting and the characters themselves, villagers around the castle start to disappear. The adults of the castle start to become uneasy and then finally Vittorio’s father gathers all of his family in the chapel to protect them and forces his three children to hide in the tombs below the floors. The three listen as their family is slaughtered above them and when all goes quiet above them the demons burst into the tomb and Vittorio’s two siblings are slaughtered before his eyes. It becomes obvious to reader – or at least one familiar with these novels – that these creatures are vampires. The vampire that slaughtered his siblings moves to slaughter Vittorio but he is stopped by a young woman called Ursula.
Vittorio, now completely alone, decks himself in his finest clothes and stuffs his pockets with money. He then rides for the nearest town. Upon arriving, he tells a priest of his plight – the priest proceeds to bring another of higher standing than he is who tells Vittorio to get out of the town and never come back. Before long, Vittorio starts to notice that there are no young men, no unwanted children and no cripples in the town and he comes to see that the town is clearly associated with the demons who slaughtered his family. His is visited briefly by Ursula on one occasion whilst he stays in this town and she gives him erotic dreams of her along with some of her vampiric blood. One evening, Vittorio proceeds up into a tower and watches as the vampires arrive to take people from the town. Unfortunately, one of them captures him and flies off with him towards their castle. When they are flying, Vittorio stabs this creature in the back and when finally released he managed to behead and kill him. thus he is brought to the court of the Ruby Grail wherein he discovers the true nature of these creatures and so his battle to remain human begins.
This was a cleverly written novel with some clever ideas – that said, however, later in the novel Rice has angels come into the plot and at this point she seems to slip back into the writing I don’t enjoy for a period – I didn’t really see the need for angels. Obviously they played a part in the plot but nevertheless I didn’t like them there. Also, I felt this novel was too brief – a lot happened in very little time and it lacked the depth of other novels – it almost felt rushed which I have never really encountered in one of her novels before. It’s a very short novel anyway but I didn’t feel enough was actually made out of this new character – it was perhaps too brief. That said, I still managed to enjoy it as she had moved back into the form of writing I enjoyed but the few fluctuations to that I didn’t like made this novel far from the best Vampire Chronicle I have ever read. Some brilliant ideas – but not as well done as they could have been.