December 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Blood Canticle by Anne Rice
Knopf HCVR: ISBN 037541200X PubDate: 01/01/04
Review by Bruce Wallace

320 pgs. List price $ 25.95
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Warning: Blood Canticle picks up where Blackwood Farm leaves off. If you have not yet read all of the other Vampire Chronicles including Blackwood Farm, stop now!

That said I will continue. At the end of Blackwood Farm Mona Mayfair was dying and came to Quinn Blackwood so that she could die in his arms as southern tradition demands. Instead Quinn, a newly made vampire himself, begs Lestat to work the Dark Trick on her. Lestat complies and yet another fledgling vampire is loosed upon an unsuspecting world. It is often said that when all you've got is a hammer all your problems look like nails.

All of the above takes place after the first chapter which Lestat spends berating his loyal readers for reading but not truly understanding his previous rants and by extension the message he desperately needs to impart. What is that important message? Well, I guess that I am not giving anything away here. Lestat’s message is that he is no longer an evil blood sucking villain! Having met God and the Devil in Memnoch the Devil he is now on he side of the angels and in short he’s a changed man, or vampire. He wants to do good and be recognized for being good. Actually he'd like to be sainted. This is an improvement over the usual guilt drenched internal dialogue that Lestat and his fellow vampires engage in at some length. Having condensed the afore mentioned guilt drenched internal dialogue into the first chapter, the novel moves right along.

Rowan Mayflower the head of Mayflower medical foundation and a powerful witch in her own right becomes concerned when Mona flees her handlers and ends up at Blackwood Farm. She knows that Mona is dying and she finds Quinn’s claims that she has made a complete recovery suspicious to say the least. Quinn is hesitant to let Mona meet with Rowan, but a meeting is set up and Rowan and her husband Michael meet the vampire trio for the first time. Rowan immediately senses the change in Mona but is relieved to see that she seems to have made a complete recovery. Michael is just relieved to see her apparently alive and well and wants her to come back home with them.

This is where the plot begins to thicken. For the first time in a very long time or perhaps ever Mona is aware that Rowan knows a lot concerning the disappearance of Mona’s child and possibly its whereabouts and that she has told her little if anything. This is also where an advanced knowledge Anne Rice books in general comes in handy. Rowan, Michael and Mona all figure prominently in the author’s Mayfair Witch series so perhaps an explanation is needed. The Mayfair’s are very old New Orleans families who have a rich history of members with supernatural powers, some unusually tragic deaths in the family and a family ghost or ghosts. There is Uncle Julien who has been keeping tabs on his descendants for generations and Lasher also known as the brown man for his taste in clothes. In truth Lasher is more like a familiar than a ghost and Uncle Julien is his minder even after his demise. Lashers goal becomes clear in the Mayfair Chronicle of the same name and reaches its tragic culmination in Taltos. By the end of those two volumes both Mona and Rowan have given birth to a Taltos or Titan. The children are born and reach there full physical growth almost immediately while extracting an enormous physical toll on the mother. Rowan can never have another child and Mona is dying of a disease that is literally destroying her organs. Both children are lost and know one is quite sure exactly what happened to them. Mona is sure that Rowan knows and just won’t tell. Against this backdrop Mona comes into her own as a powerful if inexperienced vampire with a lot of issues.

In any case (deep breath) Lestat attempts to make peace with this rapidly expanding cast of characters but especially Mona by promising to locate the missing children and any surviving descendants. This is a tall order for even Lestat but he is ever the resourceful one. He sends a telepathic request to Maharet the mother of all vampires to help him locate the Taltos. His answer arrives quickly and in an incredibly strange manner. Maharet replies using AOL! The world really is coming to an end. Soon Lestat and his newly formed coven are off on a quest to locate the mysterious Taltos offspring.

The rest as they say is history. In Blood Canticle the author unites most of the rather diverse story lines she has developed over the years and has given her loyal readers some amount of closure while leaving the door open for more Vampire Chronicles if she chooses. Most importantly Lestat seems to have finally found a place where he can live with himself and the world at large and that is a story worth reading all by itself.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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