'Prince Lestat' sells well, but many critics find the book confusing

Anne Rice's return to the world of vampires has been selling well, but some readers are finding the mythology of the book too complicated.

'Prince Lestat' is by Anne Rice.

Anne Rice’s latest novel about the world of vampires, “Prince Lestat,” is selling well but has received mixed reviews from critics. 

“Lestat” was first published on Oct. 28, In it, Rice revisits the character of Lestat, who appeared in other Rice novels, including “Interview with the Vampire.” Rice had previously stated that her 2003 book “Blood Canticle” would be the last book in her "Vampire Chronicles" series, but “Lestat” centers on a blood-sucking world where iPods are accessible. 

The novel has been doing well in sales, ranking number nine on the New York Times print and e-book fiction bestseller list for the week of Nov. 23 and coming in at number four on the IndieBound bestseller list for the week of Nov. 13. And “Lestat” has received some praise from critics, with Amazon naming it as one of the best books of October and Barnes & Noble writing in its review that “Prince Lestat is no quiet swan song. It ripples with suspense and excitement.” Kirkus Reviews found it “talky [and] inconsequential" but otherwise "good, old-fashioned fanged fun.”

However, other reviewers have complained that it was too difficult to remember the various characters and plotlines, with Boston Globe critic Meredith Goldstein writing that “it helps to have a laptop handy so that you can quickly Google characters and events…. Once caught up, it’s possible to roll with Rice’s sprawling story if you’re a longtime fan – less so if you’re not”. Louise Welsh of the Guardian noted that “even the brat prince’s superpowers cannot hinge its many plot strands and voices together…. [T]he reader [is] lost.” Publishers Weekly also complained of the long passages of exposition, calling them “bone-dry.”

And New York Times critic Terrence Rafferty simply found the book “dreadful.” 

“Rice’s queenly prose is unaltered,” he wrote. “Time cannot wither nor custom stale its infinite monotony…. [But] ‘Prince Lestat’ requires a ton of supplementary material even to be comprehensible." Rafferty did admit, however, that  "[I]t has to be said that the earnestness with which Rice continues to toil at her brand of pop sorcery has an odd, retro sort of charm.”

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