Just in time for Halloween, Rice's latest gothic epic blends her beloved Vampire Chronicles with her Mayfair Witches series. Near the dank Sugar Devil Swamp, sinister bayou country where critters far more fearsome than gators lurk, overheated Quinn Blackwood suffers a protracted case of adolescent angst driven by his violent love-hate relationship with Goblin, his spirit-world doppelgänger. As heir to Blackwood Farm and an enormous fortune, Quinn enjoys every luxury the decadent Deep South of Rice's imagination can provide, from culinary delicacies to Jasmine, his equally satisfying mulatto housekeeper. Seemingly hell-bent on seducing everyone within range, regardless of gender, age or consanguinity, he falls into a passionate but fatal relationship with 15-year-old nymphomaniac Mona Mayfair, offshoot of the Mayfair clan of witches. But he cannot control Goblin's ferocious jealousy or his nefarious double's taste for blood, particularly once Quinn is made into a Blood Hunter by Petronia, a malignant bisexual spirit who stalks the haunted family cemetery at the edge of the swamp. Rice fleshes out her slim plot line with gory set pieces of vampire history in ancient Athens, Pompeii and 19th-century Naples. She excels at vivid descriptions of macabre landscapes, gloomy estate houses and the lust that motivates her Blood Hunters and propels her ghoulish narratives. Her dialogue and characterizations, however—even of the durable Vampire Lestat, called upon by Quinn for deliverance from Goblin and Sugar Devil Swamp's unholy spirits—are flat and predictable here. But it's intrigue, eroticism and obsession that fans want, and they'll find plenty of all three. (Oct. 31)
Forecast: With a first printing of 500,000, a major ad/marketing campaign (TV, radio and print) and a four-city author tour, this title—a dual main selection of BOMC and an alternate selection of Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild, Science Fiction and QPB—is poised to continue Rice's legacy of stellar sales.