(Cover picture courtesy of Midshelf.com.)
In Anne Rice’s extraordinary new novel, the vampire Lestat—outsider, canny monster, hero-wanderer—is snatched from the world itself by the most dangerous adversary he has ever known: Memnoch, a mysterious being who claims to be the Devil. He is invited to be a witness at the Creation. He is taken like the ancient prophets into the heavenly realm and is ushered into Purgatory. Lestat must decide if he can believe in the Devil or in God. And finally, he must decide which, if either, he will serve…
I really didn’t see why so many people were upset about this novel until I actually read it a few times. Now, however, I can see why it has been deemed offensive—or even blasphemous—and why Anne Rice, now a born-again Christian has repudiated her Vampire Chronicles. Especially since this one. Memnoch the Devil doesn’t tell the conventional church-approved story of Satan’s fall from heaven. No, it is Satan, or Memnoch, who tells his side of the story.
From a theological perspective, this is a very interesting book. In it, Anne Rice has combined both old and new Christian ideas from many denominations with a bit of Jewish theology. Memnoch’s justification for his rebellion reminds me very much of the character of Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Without getting into all of the nasty little details, let’s just call this novel experimental theology and leave it at that, shall we? I’m not going to bring my personal beliefs into this review.
From a less biased, more literature-focused perspective, Memnoch the Devil is not exactly the greatest novel ever written. Lestat is a cardboard cutout by now, the plot is slow and predictable and Memnoch is the only redeeming thing, character-wise. Memnoch is complicated, yet sympathetic in a bizarre way if you put your religious beliefs aside while reading this. But other than Memnoch, this novel doesn’t have much going for it.
As usual, my warning: Memnoch the Devil contains mature content including bad language, explicit sex scenes and violence. Personally, I would not recommend it for anyone under the age of 14, but it really depends on the reader’s maturity level.
I give this book 2/5 stars.