Review: Blood Canticle

Blood Canticle Blood Canticle by Anne Rice
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. This review is of both the book and the audiobook. Following as a direct sequel to Blackwood Farm, The Blood Canticle picks up only minutes after it’s predecessor. Anne Rice’s most famous bloodsucker from The Vampire Chronicles, Lestat, tells this story from the first person point of view—something Rice has not done since Memnoch the Devil, published in 1995. Lestat initiates this new adventure by addressing his listeners and fans in the amusing and stylish trademark that he has become known for. He rebukes his audience for complaining about his recent transition from devilish and mischievous deviant to new sainthood-hunting benevolent Boy Scout—in so much as a vampire can be a boy scout. Lestat’s new goal in life is to become a saint.

The book opens up to immediate excitement with Quinn Blackwood bringing his near-to-death dearest love, Mona Mayfair to his bed in order so she can die in his arms. Before her death, Mona chooses the “gift” and becomes a vampire, like Quinn and Lestat. Her transition releases her from a wasting sickness that had ravaged her body for more than three years. More so, than in any prior novel, Anne Rice combines her two popular series, The Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches by turning Mona Mayfair into a vampire—forever binding these two powerful families. Of course, some characters are happier about this merger than others and the same can be said of Anne Rice fans.

With her recovery in sight, Quinn, Lestat, and Mona seek out Rowan Mayfair, the Mayfair heiress, and others in the Mayfair clan to discover the whereabouts of Mona’s child whom she birthed several years prior. The child was taken from Mona and now, in her healthy vampire state, she wishes to reunite with the child. However, Mona did not give birth to any child but a mythical humanlike creature known as a Taltos. The rest of the book deals with discovering the true nature of the child, unveiling the secrets of the Taltos, and ultimately, saving them.

Like many of Rice’s novels, this one is jammed pack with detail, sexual overtones of all kinds, wit, gore, and even a moral, or two somewhere in the mix. Both Lestat and Quinn are easily likable characters that the listener cares about. Mona is hard to immediately accept because her character goes through so many changes throughout the book—from being on the verge of death, to becoming immortal and then, discovering the truth to lies told to her by her family as well as finding your long lost child—but she does grow on you. All the characters are decently fleshed out both by good story telling and by a good performance.

Stephen Spinella made a highly believable and excellent Lestat. He narrated in a lightly French accent that lets the reader dissolve completely into Lestat’s world. Stephen’s voice genuinely reflects Lestat’s characteristics as well as the atmosphere. He tackles the other accents of the story with just as much ease and quality. The only stumbling block comes when dealing with Mona Mayfair. Her voice has certain fluctuations and nuances that do not seem natural and sometimes were inconsistent with her entire character. The listener is left wondering if that is a result of her transformation into a vampire, her youthful passion, or the narrator.

Do you choose style or story? Typically, with abridgements of Rice’s books, that is the ultimate decision. Lestat has a very distinct style about him and when he spins a tale in the first person, the decision needs to be made. Do you keep Lestat’s smooth and detailed style and skimp out on the plot or do you forego Lestat’s style and delve into the story? More often than not, this abridgement relies on Lestat’s style and treads lightly on the action. This does not always work. For instance, Lestat delivers a brief paragraph on the training he gives his two fledgling vampires followed by a long explanation of just what the three vampires are wearing when embarking on their mission. There seems a bit of short-changing by going on about clothing instead of a first hand account of learning the ways of a vampire. Would Empire Strikes Back be as exciting, if the audience watched Luke Skywalker spend an hour picking out his clothes and a brief snippet of him training with Yoda?

As an entry for both of her series, The Blood Canticles blends storylines and characters succinctly and smoothly. Rice has delivered another great tale for her fans to drool over and for listens to enjoy. And with Spinella voicing the work, it is hard to believe anyone else could make a better Lestat. True fans of Anne Rice will want to stick with the unabridged audiobook but for those wishing to dabble or to get a rough idea of what her stories entail, this abridgement of The Blood Canticle would make an excellent choice.

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