I’ve been a fan of Anne Rice’s books for decades. I devoured the Vampire Chronicles as soon as I could get my hands on them. As a teen I was obsessed with her vampire stories so much that I took “Lestat” as my handle on dial-up BBSes in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Some of my friends from that time still call me Lestat. I’ve not read her Christ stories, not all that interested in them. To be honest, in recent years I’ve found myself drifting away from Rice’s books, though I own just about everything she’s written.
I wasn’t sure what to think when I learned that she was writing a story arc around the Werewolf legend. My hesitation in regards to these books comes from my love of Anne Rice’s sister’s werewolf books. Alice Borchardt had a wonderful feel for her werewolves, both as humans and as wolves, that I was afraid Rice couldn’t come close to capturing. Now I know, they are not the same person. Their stories are not related, they don’t even come close to touching upon each other. That didn’t stop me from being reticent when it came to The Wolf Gift.
Like many of Rice’s series, the first book plods along for a while. Interview with the Vampire started slowly, I was nearly a third of the way through before I was hooked. The Witching Hour took me three copies before I was able to finish it – a lot of back story and my copies disappearing. The same holds true with The Wolf Gift. A lot of back ground – not really back story. Reuben’s story is at first disconnected from the theme of the werewolf. But we do get the connection soon enough.
Taking advantage of internet media, historical references to werewolves, and the American obsession with serial killers, Rice ties them all together in a way that is uniquely her’s. Returning to her Gothic genre, Rice takes us on a journey of transformation and self-realization. Reuben is a freelance reporter, the son of a successful emergency surgeon and a literature professor. He’s handsome, youthful, financial secure. Yet he’s questing for who he is as a man. When he’s sent by the paper he’s been writing for to do an expose on a mansion in northern California that has a mysterious history – the current owner wanting to sell and move on with her life, he falls in love with both the house and its mature female owner. That night they are attacked in the mansion after an evening of adult festivities and there the story begins.
We see it all from Reuben’s point of view. His self discovery, his family issues, his horror-turned-fascination with what he has become. The parallel story is even more interesting. I don’t want to reveal too much of that…. The builder of the mansion and his friends have disappeared, for all intents and purposes they are dead to the modern world. But as Reuben and his new love explore what is happening to him and discover the secrets of the house we learn that these men have a history that is not unlike that of Rice’s vampire saga – ancient and hidden, yet parallel to the history of human civilization.
Again, I do no want to say too much more. Other than I am glad I finally decided to pick up this more recent literary contribution by Anne Rice. I’m looking forward to reading more of this story arc as well as her return to the Vampire Chronicles this fall with Prince Lestat.