Anne Rice,
Vittorio the Vampire
(Random House, 1999)

Vittorio the Vampire begins like most of Rice's novel -- with an introduction of the narrator (Vittorio) to explain how long he has been a vampire and why he feels compelled to return to his father's decayed castle 500 years later to write his story.

From there the narrator transports himself to his childhood during The Age of Gold in the Tuscany countryside of Italy. On the verge of manhood, Vittorio looks up to his father, is a caring older brother to his siblings and is a well-behaved son to his mother. The castle is filled with aunts, uncles, grandparents and other family members. Extravagant parties are held; there is a feeling of wealth, power and royalty.

Vittorio has it all. But in minutes, vampires massacre his whole family before his eyes. Vittorio is spared by a beautiful vampire named Ursula, who loves Vittorio. As much as he hates her for what she is, he cannot help but feel drawn to her. Seeking revenge for the killing of his family, Vittorio finds himself torn between what may be the last person who cares about him and her kind, those responsible for his family's deaths.

From that point on, Vittorio finds himself questioning the nature of good and evil, as well as the very existence of God. Do angels exist to protect him, as depicted in the paintings of Fra Filippo?

For Vittorio, the second book in the series New Tales of the Vampires, Rice visited Florence to research her novel in some detail. Devouring books and studying paintings about the Renaissance period, she draws upon the works of Fra Filippo Lippi and Fra Angelico, the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, and the history of the de Medici family to paint a beautiful backdrop for this story.

How does it end? Read the book and find out. However, if you have not read any of Anne Rice's previous books, I suggest starting in the beginning; pick up An Interview With the Vampire and proceed from there.

[ by Felonice Merriman ]

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