Educated in the Florence of Cosimo de’ Medici, trained in knighthood at his father’s mountaintop castle, Vittorio inhabits a world of courtly splendor and country pleasures – a world suddenly threatened when his entire family is confronted by an unholy power.
In the midst of this upheaval, Vittorio is seduced by the beautiful and sinister vampire Ursula – setting in motion a chilling chain of events that will mark his life for eternity. Against a backdrop of the wonders – both sacred and profane – and the beauty and ferocity of Renaissance Italy, Anne Rice creates a passionate and tragic legend of doomed young love and lost innocence.
“As we move on year by year in this life, we learn that telling doesn’t necessarily purge; telling something is merely a reliving, and it’s a torment.”
– Anne Rice, Blood Canticle
I’m not sure I liked this book of the new vampiric characters of Anne Rice as much as I liked Pandora and definitely less than Merrick. This is the story of Vittorio, a boy who has been orphaned by a band of vampires and then goes on a quest to find and kill the murderers. Taking place in the outskirts of Florence during the 1400’s
On his quest, he reaches a village which seems oddly devoid of crippled people and unwanted children and to his horror, he finds out that the village had struck a deal with the devil, trading their undesired for a “peaceful” life. In truth, they were nothing more than a pig pen or a coop where the vampires could feed at will.
Ursula, a vampire who falls in love with him, asks him to look no further and not to pursue the path of destruction.
Travelling north, he finds an abandoned castle and he gets taken captive by the vampire covent, not before killing one of them. Ursula pleads for his life and he gets released.
Aided by some angels he saw in a painting that came alive for him, he returns to the castle and kills everyone except Ursula, to the dismay of the heavenly creatures. She wakes at night and tricks him into drinking her blood and becoming a vampire himself. He is angry but that soon passes as he starts feeding on the village that was so happy to get rid of their children. The two of them walk through old Italy as a couple and live a peaceful and monstrous life, killing wherever they went.
I was quite unhappy with this story. Why would he not kill Ursula? Why would he disobey the will of God for the sake of Love? Why have all angels in heaven hate him for his lack of willpower? Was she worth it? He became a monster for her.
I know that all humans are angels and demons at the same time and this duality of self has been discussed for centuries and I feel that the story lacked a bit more in the mental struggle department. A good man cannot be corrupted so Vittorio must have been corrupted to begin with, attracted by the dark side as much as he was by his carnal attraction to Ursula.
And even as the book ends with him meeting the angels again and confessing his undying love for his “child bride”, one must think that love (as all things) must die at one point and he will be left with the utter disappointment of a life led astray by temptation.
In short, Anne Rice’s vampires revolutionized the monstrosity of these creatures, illustrating how their nightmarish qualities could also be considered their most poignant charms.