I’m doing these two together because I read them together, and because Queen of the Damned picks up right were Lestat left off. Beginning in Lestat, the titular character has awoken some time in the 1980’s after years of sleep. He comes across the
“memoir” Interview with the Vampire, written by Louis, the vampire he had created over a century earlier. He decides, partly to get the attention of Louis, and partly to set the record straight, to form a hugely popular rock band and release an album and novel (all called “The Vampire Lestat”) at the same time to create intrigue. What we are reading, then, is his novel of his early life as a vampire, bookended by more recent exposition at the time of his awakening.
Queen of the Damned begins on the evening of The Vampire Lestat’s debut concert, when Lestat’s music has awoken Akasha, the millenia-old original vampire. Lestat is the narrator of this story, too, but he has also “collected” the stories of other vampire characters as they concern their whereabouts and doings that evening of Akasha’s rise. Akasha, herself, has a plan (that Valerie Solanas would love) to “save” humankind from itself, and she has taken Lestat with her as her prince to put the plan into motion.
Taken together with Interview with the Vampire, I found the story overall to progressively pick up steam. Interview was an interesting read, but a rather slow one. Lestat started off much the same, and I wasn’t intensely interested in most of his backstory; he engaged in a lot of the kind of existential whining and drama that Louis did for most of Interview. It wasn’t really until Lestat relates the story of Marius, which gets into the detailed history of vampires themselves and introduces Akasha and Enkil, the original Mother and Father, that I started to really feel engaged. That anticipation continued into Queen, and as such I finished this novel much more quickly than either of the other two. It had a lot more action, and the idea that it was taking place in the present rather than being presented as a memoir worked to up the excitement for me as well. Finally, in the third novel, we also get to meet many more of the older vampires, and the dynamics of the group as they come together provided a welcome dimension of interaction that differed from the histrionic “fatal attraction” type of love that was often described between several of the vampire “couples.”
As these are “classic” (in their own way) vampire novels, it is hard for me to recommend some over the other, as there are extremes these days in what people like in their vampire stories. For me, if I were to do it over again, I would skip Interview entirely and begin with Lestat’s story. Though the first half of the novel wasn’t my favorite, it provided the necessary backstory to understand Queen, which was my favorite.