The ending! The ending makes the book for me. It was unexpected. Just when you think the story aught to be done, bam! Lestat hits you with something more. I feel kind of bad admitting this, but seeing the press for Anne Rice's new vampire book (it's been over a decade since her last), Prince Lestat, reminded me that I never got past Queen of the Damned, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Before I started The Vampire Chronicles, I had read Lives of the Mayfair Witches, as well as one of Rice's stand-alone novels. That's a lot of books by one author for me. I don't know why it took me so long to read The Tale of the Body Thief. It is not as though I didn't want too. Maybe because the book is a long one. Not "Stephen King long", but still a bit of a chunker.
I really enjoyed reconnecting with Lestat. The Tale of the Body Thief takes place many years after The Queen of the Damned. The vampires have separated, gone on with their lives. Lestat has returned to New Orleans. Louis lives there too, but they do not live together. While flying about the world, Lestat is presented with an irresistible offer. Lestat goes on an adventure he wanted, that other vampires can only dream of, but then doesn't want. There are ups and downs and madness. I think in The Tale of the Body Thief we are seeing Lestat learn and grow in a way we haven't before.
I do wish that this novel was 50 pages shorter. I had a bit of a difficult time getting through the beginning of the book. Lestat had a lot of exposition; he explains why things aren't as they were left in Queen of the Damned. He talks about his life, Louis, Claudia, Marius, Miami, everything. What the beginning does well, is set up the novel as another one of Lestat's chronicles. He speaks/writes directly to his readers. He refers back to his previous books and to Louis's memoir. I've read a lot of action-packed books lately, and there wasn't much action in the beginning, so maybe I'm just not used to that level of description anymore. Once I got past the first part of the book, the pace really picked up and I just had to know what Lestat will do next.
I also loved David. David Talbot through the whole story was amazing. Am I totally happy with the end? No. Not in the sense that I didn't like it, because I very much did. I am left wondering, however, if we are given David's real, human feelings in those last pages.
The Tale of the Body Thief has left me eager to read more dark, vampire tales. Mature, evil bad guys, anti-heroes, and ethics that get thrown out. Is that what Memnoch the Devil will bring? We will see.