(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Vampire Chronicles rejuvenate the gothic romance. Like earlier heroes, Lestat is a nobleman of surpassing courage and physical attractiveness, an insatiably curious youth who follows his desires no matter the risk to himself and others. Indeed, all of Rice’s vampires are young and beautiful, suffering from varying degrees of angst in rich settings that mirror the atmosphere of earlier works. In Vittorio the Vampire, Rice even returns to the classic location so popular in the early gothics—the wild mountain strongholds of Renaissance Italy.

Lestat’s eroticism partakes of the gothic tradition. He finds himself attracted to both men and women. Deeply devoted to his mother, Gabrielle, he takes her as his vampire lover. Incestuous and homoerotic elements that are veiled in eighteenth and nineteenth century gothic fiction explode in Rice’s Chronicles, as the characters liberally exchange blood with one another. The sensuality of the vampires also takes the androgyny of the gothic one step further; for vampires, the “lower organs” no longer matter, and thus gender becomes unimportant. Indeed, Pandora asserts that “the greatest part of our gift” is “freedom from the confines of male, female!”

Rice’s reliance on the convention of the handsome and noble young hero or heroine takes on an ironic cast, as many of her vampires comment on the importance of youth and good looks. Vampires are apparently suckers for a pretty...

(The entire section is 589 words.)