It has been three days since I finished reading MEMNOCH THE DEVIL and I am still wrestling with this thought-provoking novel. This is the mark of a truly extraordinary writer; one whose book you cannot or will not forget.

Though the fourth and final book of the illustrious Vampire Chronicles, MEMNOCH THE DEVIL is unlike the others in that Lestat and the other vampires are not the central focus of the story.

Ms. Rice's latest tale centers on Lestat's obsession with Dora, a beautiful religious zealot whose racketeering father was one of Lestat's victims. Lestat's promise to see that Dora is given a priceless collection of religious relics places him in a new position.

It is while he is pondering his interest in Dora that Memnoch approaches him as an ordinary man. And Lestat is just the "man" Memnoch needs because he is immortal, like the angels themselves. Though frightened of what Memnoch asks, Lestat follows him and learns of Memnoch's life and his fall from Heaven to Earth and to the Shoel (gloom).

Memnoch refuses to be called Satan or any of his other names, explaining how he, among all angels, Seraphim and cherubs, loved humankind so much he continually petitioned his Lord to free humankind from suffering in life and death. He pleads his case well, even to the point of traveling with Lestat through time to the crucifixion of Jesus and Veronica of the Veil. The ultimate question arises: Who will Lestat believe and serve? Memnoch or our Lord who he can surely trust?

Deeply religious, sometimes outrageously so, yet always thought-provoking, Anne Rice explores the greatest and most complex of relationships; that of man and his religious beliefs. Is this blasphemy or brilliance? Ms. Rice uses her talents to bring us a remarkable novel that shines like a beacon through the gloom and in the end leaves us with questions that help us through our search for meaning and hope. A true masterpiece. (Oct., 400 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin