|Anne Rice publicity photo|
Merrick is the seventh book in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. In this novel, Rice unites Merrick, a witch of the Mayfair family, with some of the vampires from the first six novels. Merrick is also a member of a fictional scholar’s organization called the Talamasca. She is the third member of the Talamasca to become involved with the vampires, but she is the first Mayfair to do so. This book is the inevitable unification of two of Anne’s most popular series.
Series spoilers ahead.
The former Superior General of the Talamasca, David Talbot, narrates Merrick. David became a vampire at the hand of Lestat some years before the telling of this tale. Up until this point, David lost all contact with his friends in the Talamasca. However, the vampire Louis asks him (before the novel begins) to reconnect with his old friend Merrick. Louis wants Merrick to raise the soul of the dead child-vampire Claudia.
Louis and Lestat made Claudia in the first novel of the Vampire Chronicles. She was a tiny child when she became a vampire. During her life as a vampire, Claudia was morbidly angry at her fate. She despised Louis and Lestat for making her when she was so young. She even attempted to murder Lestat in her rage. A gang of vampires that disapproved of her actions murdered her.
Louis feels guilty for Claudia’s fate and wishes to know if she was able to move on or if her soul is in purgatory. He feels responsible for her hateful nature, and he still loves her. Readers who are familiar with The Vampire Chronicles may be able to foresee the outcome of the potential encounter with Claudia long before it happens.
David meets with Merrick, and she agrees to perform the spell that is necessary to rouse Claudia. She asks David to give her a few days to prepare. David then returns to the apartment he shares with Louis and tells him the news. He later relates the story of Merrick’s life and her relationship with himself to Louis.
The story is told from David’s perspective and you learn a lot about the love he has for Merrick. The relationship between Merrick and David is adventurous and romantic yet a little disturbing. David was an old man before he became a vampire and he fell in love with Merrick when she was a teenager. Despite his age, Merrick loves him in return and the story of her times with him and in the Talamasca are as interesting as any other of Rice’s tales.
After David finishes telling Louis Merrick’s story, Louis promises him that he will not hurt Merrick. So it is decided that the plans for reaching Claudia will be carried out. Merrick contacts them and they proceed to her house for the ritual. The spell is gruesome, but successful.
The spirit of Claudia torments and even stabs Louis. She tells Louis that he must kill himself to make her happy. Louis becomes sure that he must do this to appease Claudia. David and Merrick are distraught by Louis’ decision. Attempts to change his mind are unsuccessful. He plans to kill himself in a few days.
After three days, David has not heard from either Merrick or Louis. He is fretful. On the third night, he sits to write a letter in hopes that Louis will find it. As he is writing, Louis appears in the apartment. He tells David that he is in love with Merrick and he can think of nothing but her.
David pleads with Louis, asking him to ignore his feelings and not to go to Merrick. David tells Louis that Merrick is making him feel this way with a spell. This is the truth, but Louis will not listen. Louis insists on seeing Merrick. David decides to go with him.
Together they go to Merrick’s home. She and Louis refuse to allow David to stay. David is heartbroken and leaves, but not without threatening to kill Louis if anything should happen to Merrick. The following evening, he awakens to find Merrick a vampire and Louis seemingly dead in his coffin, which he set out in the sun in an attempt at suicide.
Louis is revived when the slumbering elder vampire Lestat awakens and restores him with his blood. Louis is reborn stronger than ever. Before it is explained that Louis is not dead you still get the sense that he can't be dead.
The foursome receives a letter after Louis’ revival. It is from the Talamasca. They are demanding that Merrick be returned to them and that the vampires leave the city. Lestat is furious and doesn’t want to leave. However, David and Merrick soon convince him not to go to war with the Talamasca. They all leave the city, but Merrick does not return to the order.
Once again, Anne Rice is able to add a depth and complexity to her characters and plot that is not easily conveyed in a short synopsis. I think anyone who has enjoyed either the Mayfair witch novels or the other Vampire Chronicles will enjoy Merrick.