Book Review: ANNE RICE'S VAMPIRE CHRONICLES: AN ALPHABETTERY

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Spanning 18 books written over forty plus years, to call The Vampire Chronicles “sprawling” is more than a bit of an understatement. The wildly popular Anne Rice series is daunting, a near Everest of gothic horror that never seems to stop growing. Earlier this year, in fact, the author published Blood Communion, the latest chapter in the tales of Lestat de Lioncourt and the undead underworld which he inhabits.

No one could have known in 1976, with the publication of Interview with the Vampire, that Rice had tapped into something so unique. Any book is lucky to have a publication history spanning 42 years, but the world first described there is one that has only gotten more vast, more strange, and more twisted as the years have gone by. Each release deepens the mythos, twists the drama, adds to staggering weight of the series and, somehow, leaves fans clamoring for more. You couldn’t be blamed if you had trouble keeping things straight. Fortunately, you no longer need to.

ANNE RICE’S VAMPIRE CHRONICLES: AN ALPHABETTERY is a perfect companion to the series. Meticulously compiled by Becket, Rice’s former assistant, the well-structured reference is a must-own for diehards that provides overviews of every major character and location found throughout the expansive series.

Actually, even minor characters and locations get their due, a boon because at this point the mythos is so immense that it might be hard to remember anyone but the major players. Becket’s painstaking research has made it easy to find answers quickly. Is the name of one of the lesser members of the Fang Gang from Queen of the Damned escaping you? Having trouble remembering who the elder vampire of the Court of the Ruby Grail is? Need a refresher on the all the manifestations of the Dark Gift? You’ll find them all here in an easy to use format that also includes suggestions for cross-referencing and further reading, allowing you deeper access to the world.

It wouldn’t be hard to find yourself getting lost within AN ALPHABETTERY for hours at a time, cross-referencing characters and themes until you’ve descended into the darkest depths of the labyrinthine universe of the Vampire Chronicles. Using just the cross-reference suggestions, I found myself going from Lestat to Armand to Veronica’s Veil to Memnoch to…well, you get the idea. The level and amount of information provided by Becket is dizzying, and speaks to how well-constructed Rice’s world is.

An introduction by Rice herself, titled “Where Does It All Come From?” adds more dimension to the world she created, taking readers on an insightful journey about the origins of her universe and her writing process. “What was on my mind in the beginning was simply writing novels that mattered to people,” she writes. Given the popularity of her series, it’s safe to say she’s lived up to her intent and then some.

More than just a mere wiki in book form, AN ALPHABETTERY is an essential guide for fans and academics alike, a lovingly crafted and easy to use map that sheds light on all the corners of the universe. It’s a new way to experience the Vampire Chronicles without having to reread all 18 books in the series, offering connections you might not have realized and insights you might never have had. Stunning, dizzying, and beautiful, it’s well-deserving of its space next to your Rice collection on the shelf.

James Roberts