Anne Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien in New Orleans in 1941. Her parents wanted her to be a woman who could control her own destiny and thought her name would give her an advantage in life. While she went by Anne both colloquially and legally, she certainly did embody the bold nature her original name intended. Anne Rice passed away on December 11, 2021—and her legacy endures.
It’s rare for a writer to admit that one of the biggest books of their career was a fluke, but that’s exactly what makes Rice so exceptional.
She wrote Interview with the Vampire after losing her five-year-old daughter to leukemia. She put her grief into the story about blood and created complex vampires who were tragic and terrifying in their opulence.
But humanizing vampires sparked a bit of controversy when the novel was first published in 1976. Critics weren’t ready to see a creature that was nuanced and more than the singular blood-thirsty monster. The criticism caused her to turn away from horror until 1985. When she returned to The Vampire Chronicles with The Vampire Lestat, the world was ready for her modern take on the vampire genre.
In one book, Rice single-handedly expanded the mythos of the vampire. Through Louis, we sympathize with the vampire as opposed to the victims. We see the struggle he lives with even though he is powerful, enigmatic, and immortal. Rice made him both the monster and the victim, allowing her readers to explore and identify with this clashing duality within themselves. Her characters live on the fringes of society, rejected or rejecting; they exist in a multitude of layers in a way that characters weren’t frequently represented at the time.
Being one of a handful of women writing horror in the 1980s certainly contributed to her ability to create diverse and unique perspectives. In a time when the genre was largely dominated by men, Rice wrote luscious, sensual, and mysterious books that allowed her to influence the industry while standing out. Readers flocked to her gothic themes and haunting atmospheres. No matter what genre she wrote in, she was recognizable and remarkable.
Her career spanned over forty years. In that time, Rice wrote 38 novels and several short stories; saw four of her novels adapted into film and two into television shows; and wrote several pilots for independent shows. But her most profound, lasting impact is how she launched the vampire into a character trope that readers identify with today.
In tribute to Anne Rice’s legacy, we’ve gathered 11 of her novels spanning every series and genre she wrote as a snapshot of her impressive—and beloved—career.
Interview with the Vampire
This iconic book launched Rice’s career and put vampires into the mainstream like never before.
A journalist interviews Louis—a vampire tortured by his existence—who recalls the story of his life. Told with lush prose, it spans centuries and continents, introducing us to a complex vampire society filled with dastardly villains and tragic heroes.
The book launched a thirteen-book series, a blockbuster film, and will be adapted for a television series in 2022.
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The Witching Hour
Expanding on the supernatural society first seen in Queen of the Damned, The Witching Hour is the first in the Lives of the Mayfair Witch trilogy.
The story follows Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon with powers she doesn’t understand. When she finds a drowned man and brings him back to life, they embark on a journey of understanding, discovery, and love. Going between past and present, The Witching Hour spans four centuries of Mayfair history, culminating in a shocking end.
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt
Rice wrestled with her Catholic faith over the course of her life. In 1998, she returned to the church and wrote a new novel.
Christ the Lord follows the fictional life of Jesus Christ as a child. It’s an engrossing novel told in the first person perspective of a character over two billion people worship. Rice dedicated enormous research into building a world that is historically accurate, all while portraying the characters with compassion and humanity.
The second book in the series, The Road to Cana, was published in 2008. However, by 2010, Rice turned away from religion and announced no plans to release the third and final book.
The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned
Last awakened during Cleopatra’s reign, Ramses wakes in Edwardian London. He was once known as Ramses the Great, but after drinking from the elixir of life, he is immortal—and cursed. In a desperate attempt to resurrect his long-dead love, Ramses makes a decision that could doom the world.
It took 18 years before fans saw the sequel, The Passion of Cleopatra, which Rice co-authored with her son Christopher Rice. The third book, The Reign of Osiris, is scheduled to be published in 2022.
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When assassin Toby O’Dare is contacted by a seraphim and offered a chance at redemption, he jumps at the opportunity. He’s transported to thirteenth-century England, where he must right historical wrongs in order to salvage his own humanity.
Rice’s journey with religion is clearly at the core of the narrative. Angel Time focuses on the themes of redemption, salvation, and forgiveness—with a paranormal edge.
The New Tales of the Vampires series is a spin-off from The Vampire Chronicles, featuring secondary characters and focusing on their stories. David Talbot has set out to chronicle various Undead lives. He meets Pandora in a Paris café where he convinces her to tell him her life story. We begin in Imperial Rome and travel across two centuries as we learn of her vampiric life. Both this book and the sequel, Vittorio the Vampire, are Rice’s only vampire novels in which Lestat doesn’t appear.
The Wolf Gift
While Rice rejected claims that The Wolf Gift was her return to supernatural storytelling after her Christ the Lord novels, many of her fans saw it as exactly that. Journalist Reuben Golding is attacked by an unseen beast while on assignment. The bite begins a metamorphosis that is both horrific and ecstatic—while he is hunted by the police, scientists, and the media. Once again, themes of salvation and redemption are evident, as well as transformation as Golding struggles to fully embrace being both wolf and man.
The Feast of All Saints
Her second novel, The Feast of All Saints is a historical fiction novel about the gens de couleur libres—free people of color—and their life in New Orleans before the Civil War. A richly researched book that follows multiple characters through their lives with nuanced detail and breathtaking atmosphere, it’s a story that continues to sweep readers away. The novel was made into a movie with a star-studded cast including James Earl Jones and Forest Whitaker in 2001.
Exit to Eden
One of two novels published under the pseudonym Anne Rampling, Exit to Eden is her second BDSM romance novel. Lisa is a perfectionist. The last thing she expects when she chooses Eliot as her client is to fall in love. Through risqué sexual escapades, Lisa and Eliot find a way to balance the desires of not just their bodies, but their hearts. A movie was made, but Rice denounced it after it was rewritten into a buddy-cop romcom starring Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
The Sleeping Beauty Quartet is Rice’s first erotic BDSM romance series, this time published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. They’re loosely based on the fairytale Sleeping Beauty and follow Beauty through various sexual exploits. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that Rice admitted to writing the novels, and in 2015, she finally completed the quartet when she published Beauty’s Kingdom.
Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession
Rice’s autobiography takes readers through her spiritual journey to rediscovering her Catholic faith. She takes readers from her religious upbringing, Catholic schools, and how she lost her faith in adulthood. Though she proclaimed herself an atheist, her questions towards faith never left her. Rice bares her soul and reveals the questions she’s always struggled with when it comes to God and faith. Called Out of Darkness is a riveting read that illuminates many of the themes her books touch on through a far more intimate lens.
This was originally published on The Lineup.