Ever since its inception in the eighteenth century, Gothic literature has been characterised by its graphic and unflinching explorations of taboo subject matters. Written with intent to shock, challenge and frighten, it is known to focus heavily on the juxtaposing subjects of religion and the primal human condition.
To any fan of the gothic genre, names such as Mary and Percy Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe and John William Polidori would doubtless call to mind a myriad of olden day classics.
But without a doubt, the crown for the most prolific Gothic author of the modern age goes to none other than Anne Rice.
The author of 36 books (37 including the next instalment of Ramses The Damned, scheduled for release in 2022), Rice has built a diverse portfolio of both stand-alones and series. In the spirit of the Gothic genre, her subject matters often fell upon the religion, sexuality, existentialism and interweaving of the supernatural with universal humanitarian issues. She was, however, known for breaking boundaries and unflinching defiance of conventions, distinguishing herself as one of the most uniquely bold and daring Gothic authors of our time.
On December 11th 2021, literature lovers and fans of the Gothic were devastated to hear the sad news of Anne’s passing, having died due to stroke-related complications at the age of 80.
Following this sad news for story-loving comments, we want to take a moment to celebrate her work with a quick pick of some Anne Rice favourites.
Due to the diversity of her catalogue, to rank her work from start to finish would be nigh impossible. However, we have managed to pick three of our favourite Anne Rice series; perfect for newcomers or those wanting to revisit her work.
Lives Of The Mayfair Witches
A shockingly dark tale of the occult, this book trilogy follows the story of a witch family whose fortunes have been long since manipulated by a dangerous and lurid supernatural being.
In an intensely dark story of history, mystery, murder, occult customs, and spiritualism, The Mayfair Witches delves dangerously deep into both the metaphysical and the basest of universal human appetites. And fans of her other series will likely find some pleasing crossovers peppered amongst the pages. Each instalment makes for its own uniquely compelling piece, though it’s certainly not for the faint of heart!
Christ The Lord
After decades of steadfast Atheism, Anne Rice’s return to the Catholic Church in 1998 came as a surprise to many. However, Rice later had a change of heart in 2010, announcing on Facebook that she “quit being Christian” due to her frustration with Church sex abuse scandals and persecution perpetrated by radicals and corrupt Church superiors. Though despite moving away from organised religion, Rice remained a self-proclaimed “follower of Christ”, stating that she would read her bible and pray every day, but just by herself.
From Rice’s turbulent religious journey came two of her most ambitious books yet seen by her hoards of avid followers.
Based on the Gospels of the New Testament, Christ The Lord is made up of two instalments. The first was published in 2005. Titled Out Of Egypt and focused on the largely unexplored childhood of Jesus. Rice then followed this up in 2008 with Road To Cana, which delves deeper into the better-known stories of Jesus’s preaching and miracle-working during his adult life in Judea.
While this series wasn’t Rice’s first shot at creatively interpreting the stories behind canonised biblical figures, it was without a doubt one of her most courageous additions to her already vast catalogue. With its textual translation of biblical stories being more palatable to the modern eye, its deep exploration of these ancient tales makes for a wonderfully compelling read!
The Vampire Chronicles
Okay, the moment everyone’s been waiting for – The Vampire Chronicles!
Of all her series, it is not only the most well known but also by far the most vast. With a million and one vampire novels already on the shelves when the first of the Vampire Chronicles was published, distinguishing oneself within the genre was (and still is) a tall order. Rice, however, reshaped the conventions of the vampire archetype by telling her stories through the first-hand perspective of the vampire, as opposed to the victim, casting these previously feared figures in a far more sympathetic light.
Spanning fourteen instalments in total, The Vampire Chronicles focuses predominantly on Lestat de Lioncourt, who is introduced to us in Interview With A Vampire as the devilishly suave, eighteenth-century vampire who turns Louis du Pointe de Lac, a grieving plantation owner from New Orleans, to a world of vampiric darkness. Despite originally being written as an experimental standalone, it later spiralled into a long and complex life story, pertaining to themes of religion, spiritualism, sexuality, amorality and, most predominantly, humanity’s ongoing struggle with death, disease and mortality.
With the hit film adaptation of Rice’s Interview With A Vampire, featuring Tom Cruise in the role as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis, The Vampire Chronicles was catapulted into the mainstream limelight. Since then, speculations of a cinematic revival have been ongoing.
In the last few years, Anne Rice and her son, Christopher Rice, stated numerous times that they were working towards a series adaptation that was planned to span five seasons. However, updates and details were few and far between and with Anne Rice’s passing, the future of this project is now all the more unclear.
Whatever the case though, while we’re all deeply saddened by Anne’s passing, we’re equally grateful to her for sharing her world with us, in all its deep, dark and hedonistic glory!
Rest in peace, Anne Rice. And thank you!
Do you have a favourite book by Anne Rice? Are there any in particular that you wish you could see adapted to the screen? Let us know in the comment section below!