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Anne Rice
Alfred A. Knopf, 305 pages

Anne Rice
Anne Rice was born in 1941 in New Orleans. In 1957, her family moved to Richardson, Texas. After high school, she got married and moved to to San Francisco in 1962. In 1973, she wrote Interview With The Vampire. She has gone on to write numerous bestselling books and has had published several other titles writing as Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure. She and her family live in New Orleans.

Anne Rice Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Hank Luttrell

I haven't read much Anne Rice. But I loved Interview With the Vampire, which launched Rice's career. When I read it, I was working a third shift job in a huge old dark university building. My boss called me the shift insomniac. In the wee hours, most of the staff would be asleep. I was unable to sleep in a chair. My boss liked it that one of us was still awake. It sort of helped secure his perimeter; I'd be alert if the building was invaded. So I would do a little recreational reading. By the light of day the building looked like a parking garage; industrial, cement and glass, utilitarian. But in the dark, it was easy to imagine it as an old gothic mansion. I was certainly isolated, just Anne Rice's characters and me in a little puddle of light on a second floor balcony. It was way spooky.

The narrator of Merrick is David, once head of an ancient order of paranormal investigators. In Tale of the Body Thief, David helped get back Lestat's stolen super-vampire body, and then traded up to a younger body himself. Then Lestat promptly made him a vampire.

The title character is a powerful witch, Merrick Mayfair, a distant or estranged relative of the Mayfair Witches from Rice's Witch novels. Since the death of her guardian grandmother, Merrick has been the ward of David and his organization. (Merrick might remind you a little of the Anne Rice described on that episode of TV's Biography: beautiful, long hair, hard drinking.)

One section of Merrick seems like a veritable Anne Rice bibliography, annotated by David, who after all is a scholar. One amusing note is that Lestat and his coven feel they can create autobiographic books and other vampiric art openly, because it will never be believed. Their publicity does cause some hubbub, however. Media attention attracts younger, uncouth vamps to New Orleans. Vampire Elders have to kill or drive them away to prevent their excess feeding from attracting undue attention. Lestat even has to bestir himself from his stupor (he just lays around and listens to music) to help with the purge.

This is not an action-packed book. I'd say it moves with the speed of congealed blood. It is shorter than many of Rice's novels, and seems to be mainly meant to redefine the characters and relationships of Lestat, the vampires created by Lestat (Louis and David), and Merrick. The climax is fine, but not surprising. For most of the story, David and Louis energetically promise and proclaim that they won't throw a character into the briar patch. So it comes as no surprise when this character shows up full of stickers.

It has been suggested that Rice's style is a bit pretentious or ponderous. And that her work would benefit from a strong editorial hand. She is so successful that she can insist on her own text, no changes. I'm of the view that while it might be true that a novel produced by a committee, by a collaboration of a writer and an editor, or team of editors, might result in a more perfect commercial entertainment, that product would be less of the individual writer's own eccentric artistic vision. And anyway, I for one expect ancient blood suckers to speak in an odd manner.

Rice's many fans will enjoy Merrick. I had the feeling she was shuffling through her thoughts about her books and characters, putting her vampire-verse in order, organizing her witches, and getting ready to create some major new plots. This probably isn't the right book for readers new to Anne Rice. While I've only read Interview, I found Merrick an efficient re-introduction to her work. I'm sure I could read any other of her books and feel I knew something about what was happening.

Copyright © 2001 Hank Luttrell

Hank Luttrell has reviewed science fiction for newspapers, magazines and web sites. He was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo Award and is currently a bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin.

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