Anne Rice describes her latest novel as a vampire version of Romeo and Juliet. While her story is entertaining, the comparison to the Bard of Stratford finds the Belle of New Orleans’s characters lacking Shakespeare’s depth. Both are fans of Florence, but Rice provides interesting period descriptions while Shakespeare tells us almost nothing about the city. Then again, Shakespeare was never a novelist and Rice was never a playwright, though they are both erotic.
Vittorio the Vampire is the second book in Rice’s New Tales of the Vampires series. Each book stands alone and they’re intended to be about Vampires removed from Lestat’s circle of suckers. As Pandora did in her book, Vittorio tells the tale of ho he lost his family and was initiated into a vampire clan. He’s a bit of a spoiled whiner, but as ever, Rice excels at creating interesting period surroundings, which compensate for her character’s shallowness. Vittorio is pursued and caught by the lonely vixen vamp, Ursula.
Far from serving up a Juliet, Rice spends a lot of time describing Ursula’s appearance and lust, which constitute a poor character. The brief appearance of the historical figure of Fra Filippo is richer in its few pages than most of the other characters. As added spice to her already seasoned world, Rice feeds us Angels in this go round. The angels are intriguing enough to guarantee a repeat performance in another book.
Anne Rice’s style has been to provide the reader with a mystery, or some interesting question that needs answering, and then to draw us through her story, tantalizing us with hints. Her conclusions are either cliffhangers or doorstops. With the Tales of the New Vampires, her style has evolved into following characters through each discovery as it happens, resulting in an entertaining tale that is an improvement over the old carrot on a stick approach. Anne Rice freaks may have trouble adapting to their Dark Queen’s stylistic shift, but readers hungry for some light, entertaining trash will come away satisfied and maybe hungry for more.