I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Memnoch The Devil” by Anne Rice! It’s been a while since I read another book in her Vampire Chronicles series, so it’s nice to pick it up again in time for October! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“In the fifth Vampire Chronicle, Lestat is searching for Dora, the beautiful and charismatic mortal daughter of a drug lord. Dora has moved Lestat like no other mortal ever has, and he cannot get her out of his visions. At the same time, he is increasingly aware that the Devil knows who he is and wants something from him. While torn between his vampire world and his passion for Dora, Lestat is sucked in by Memnoch, who claims to be the Devil himself. Memnoch presents Lestat with unimagined opportunities: to witness creation, to visit purgatory, to be treated like a prophet. Lestat faces a choice between the Devil or God. Whom does he believe in? Who does he serve? What are the element of religious belief? Lestat finds himself caught in a whirlpool of the ultimate choice.”
Disclaimer before we get into the review: I am not going to linger too much on the theological and/or religious aspects of this book in this review and argue whether they are right and/or wrong, etc. I don’t think I’m qualified to do so, and there are probably other people that did in-depth research and/or analysis of this that you should look up instead.
Thematic Development: 4 out of 5
Plot Development: 2 out of 5
I found the beginning a little slow, but I did like the twist where Lestat, after killing Roger, ends up getting into a conversation with the dead Roger only hours later and how it leads into the rest of the book. It’s a nice lead-in for all the rest of the book, and I did enjoy that. Also, kudos to the plot for giving some follow-up to the previous book, “Tale Of The Body Thief,” and I recommend reading that book before reading this one to understand some aspects of this book’s plot (at least for the beginning of it). However, the plot does get amazingly dialogue-heavy, turning into a long retelling of the story of Creation and other Biblical stories that will be familiar to those associated with the Christian faith, and continues to be such until the last few chapters of the book.
In terms of the thematic, religious elements of the book, only those with good knowledge of the basics of Christianity are probably going to understand this. Those who don’t, well…I’d recommend doing some quick research beforehand. Given that 85%-90% of the book consists of dialogue-heavy conversation between Memnoch and Lestat about the Creation story, the Gospel of Jesus, etc., acting as a retelling of those stories through Memnoch’s point of view, I think it’s easy for the reader to get super-confused while reading it. Heck, despite my own knowledge of the Christian tradition, I myself still got confused. It does bring some interesting questions about who is truly telling the truth, as well as give a different perspective on religion that one may not have thought of before.
Character Development: 2 out of 5
Due to most of the book being a conversation between Memnoch and Lestat about religion (particularly the retelling of the Creation story and other stories known well in the Christian tradition), there is not a lot of room for character development for many other characters if at all. We see a tiny bit of Maharet, Armand and Louis close to the end, as well as David and Dora at the beginning and end of the book (as well as Dora’s father Roger), but that’s it. All the rest of the book focuses on Lestat and Memnoch. Memnoch had his own opportunity to shape his own character through his retellings of the Christian tradition, given how he noted many conflicts he got into with God as portrayed in this book, and Lestat also starts forming his own doubts on all this because of him. I can’t spoil much about how much I enjoyed reading Lestat’s increasing doubt about the entire situation because that will give away some more major spoilers, but it was definitely interesting to see Lestat so thrown-off by everything.