""Stories within stories within stories! And always, it took another story to explain the one that preceded it."" That's the structure of Somtow's richly textured novel of supernatural sacrifice and redemption set during and just after the Civil War. After Abraham Lincoln's assassination, the British widow of the Reverend Grainger (whom she mistakenly believes to have died in the war) attends the New York viewing and there meets Walt Whitman. He has a tale to tell, which involves Civil War atrocities, dark magic and some vivid resurrections. And he's just the first of a series of storytellers (among them Marie Laveau, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron, a voodoo priestess, a one-eyed slave who can raise the dead and a young veteran of Andersonville) who gradually reveal the Rev. Grainger's secret life, and the secrets of undead immortality, to the hitherto sheltered young widow. Author of Vampire Junction and a werewolf novel, Moon Dance, Somtow here deploys zombies and a were-leopard in a story that makes good use of period detail and gory voodoo atmospherics. (Feb.) FYI: Known as ""the Terrifying Thai,"" Somtow is a composer and the great-nephew of the Queen of Siam. His ballet, Kaki, premiered this year in Bangkok at a Royal Command Performance.
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998 Release date: 02/01/1998 Genre: Fiction