Darkness, I: Third in the Blood Opera Sequence

Tanith Lee, Author
Tanith Lee, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13956-8
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
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The darkness that permeated the first two novels of Lee's Blood Opera Sequence (Dark Dance and Personal Darkness, both paperback originals) becomes nearly impenetrable in this third book of the Scarabae, an ancient vampire clan. The family diaspora forced by the fratricidal rampage of Ruth, the ``bad seed'' born to Rachaela Day in Personal Darkness, continues here, with several Scarabae roaming the English countryside in the guise of bikers while Rachaela settles down in London with the androgyne Althene Simon to give birth to their child, Anna. Physically and mentally precocious, Anna looks like an adolescent at age two, and manifests unhealthy signs that she is a reincarnation of Ruth. While other Scarabae seek unobtrusive niches in the world, Anna is abducted to a subterranean mock-up of Egypt by a mysterious patriarch named Cain, to act out the centuries-old power struggles that have shaped the clan. Although filled with mystery and foreboding, the story takes too long to gel. Lee spends much of the tale cataloguing the quirks of the Scarabae, who grow younger as they age, and describing their clothing and meals. The result is a narrative mired in a decadence that impedes forward momentum. The author is still the undisputed queen of contemporary gothic fantasy, but this novel leaves a taste of reheated Rice in the reader's mouth. (Jan.)
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