It was in 1976 that Anne Rice published a novel that brought traditional vampire mythology to contemporary life. “Interview with the Vampire,” a late-night conversation between a reporter and one of the undead, found a way to connect the world of 18th-century Louisiana to that of late 20th-century San Francisco. Extravagant though most of it was, that novel was also a great deal of fun as it reinvented the vampire legend through the recently turned plantation owner Louis de Pointe du Lac and his maker, Lestat de Lioncourt.

Let’s face it: Any vampire novel is going to ask a lot of any reader. Unfortunately, the latest in Rice’s series “The Vampire Chronicles” suffers from its own sense of importance, even as it asks way too much of its readers. “Blood Communion” doesn’t really have all that much to say. It’s sort of about revenge and sort of about establishing a new vampire world order. Either of those devices might have made for a good read; however, there’s just too much of everything else.

In a lumbering attempt at some sort of meta-fiction, recent “Vampire Chronicles” have morphed into Lestat’s autobiography, with ongoing mention of his other “books” and “films.” “Blood Communion” continues the apparent need the author feels to summarize in too much detail the works that have come before. At least this time the summary is only a couple of chapters instead of most of the book.

The remaining chapters deal with Lestat’s becoming the new leader of the Blood Communion, a council of the world’s undead, by eventually eliminating his sworn enemy Roshamandes in the most excessively violent manner imaginable.

There are still a lot of ornately named characters to keep track of. There’s Amel, Arjun, Gregory, Pandora, Marius, bodyguards Thorne and Cyril, Allesandra, Gremt, Notker, Armand, Baudwin, Servraine, Fareed, Benji, and Kapetria. There are even hip nicknames, for readers having trouble with pronunciation: the aforementioned Roshamandes is often called “Rosh”; Gundersanth is “Santh.”

There’s still Rice’s inexplicable obsession with supposedly high fashion. The clothing of male vampires especially is described in disproportionate detail. Witness Lestat, late in the novel: “As for me, I was dressed as I usually am, in a frock coat of red velvet with cameo buttons, and layers of embroidered lace at the neck and the same snow white lace dripping over my hands—with the invariable pressed dungarees and high shiny black boots, and the gold Medusa ring on my finger.”

And far too many of those intricately appointed undead also have hair that does something: hair that’s “rippling” or “tangled” or “wavy” or that “hangs like a mantle.”

And there’s still an excess of Anne Rice’s, well, laughable semantics for just about any given situation. How about: “‘No, don’t touch her. This is a matter for our vampire doctor.’” Or “‘Lestat,’ he said, ‘you are the damnedest creature.’”

By the way, will someone please explain how Lestat can hear the heartbeats of the vampires around him? Vampires are dead, aren’t they?

Anything else in “Blood Communion” takes a back seat to such baroque excess. In “Interview with the Vampire,” Lestat is a secondary character. Sadly, Anne Rice seems determined to keep him front and center despite all indications that he should be allowed to rest in peace.

Steven Whitton is a retired Professor of English.

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