Did Rice have to go where she did with this? No: Some parts about Bravenna seem out of place, some decisions and developments feel rushed and forced, and that also goes for these new beings suddenly becoming noticeable, and noticeably active, after having supposedly existed for so long. Also, not sure what to think about the fact that early on they somewhat reminded me of Rice’s Taltos, nor about the brief reference to the final books of the “old” Chronicles, which at least provides closure but feels like quite a punch, considering the fate of the characters and how offhandedly it’s all dismissed. And then there are the disagreements with some of the views presented, the modern world being called “paradise” and the love for humans and awe at their achievements, despite the squabbles, wars and different directions taken, and depicting the desire for a guiding force to direct development as wrong.
But I expected worse and yet the overall impression is much better than even the above would lead one to believe. There’s care taken to get readers up to speed, all the careful references to past books coupled with the proper use of present developments. There’s the fact that it’s all once again quite a search, for meaning, purpose, story, for both Rice’s world and the “real” one, commentary on human society, religion, life, all of it being so obvious in Kapetria’s tale, which is a novella in itself. The couple of interesting bits about Memnoch are also worth mentioning, as is the final chapter that, for the most part, makes things right. But mainly it’s that writing again, that focus on beauty and art, and love, all the detailed descriptions… Most of all, it’s simply Lestat being himself again, returned, the Brat Prince writing about his “tribe of shadows […] wrapped in Gothic splendor and self-sustained romance”, and Rice truly shining when she’s in his mind, giving voice to his thoughts. It feels like… For me, it’s perhaps the closest to a literary equivalent of returning home. Not to the place where you live, but home.