The problem is the fit. That richness feels oddly foreign for these modern day characters, even if they are all coming from the upper crust of San Francisco society. Even their manner of speaking, the conversational moments felt stilted and melodramatic. The silky turns of phrase and overly intelligent bite that came from iconic characters like Louie and Lestat felt tight and unwieldy from our reluctant hero Reuben and his surrounding family. Only later in the book, as history begins to reveal itself, are there people who functionally fit into the tone of the book.
I'm a long-time fan of Rice and I was eager to read this new turn of her writing, after devouring the Vampire books and the Witching series so long ago. To this day I think Memnoch the Devil is a seminal work (only behind Vampire Lestat), so admittedly it's possible my bar is unreasonably high, but this new outing felt more like a reflection of earlier works as viewed through the warped, old glass in those beautiful Victorian houses in the Garden District. The world outside has changed too much and I ended up feeling like half the book was stuck out of time.
There are moments of connection, stretches of excitement and momentum, but then the book slows to an unnecessary crawl, lurching forward far past the point when everything has been laid out before you. It answers its own questions far too early and leaves little reason to turn the pages until the back cover finally comes into view.