The 22nd novel from the dazzlingly popular vampire chronicler (The Vampire Lestat, The Witching Hour, etc.) brings her familiar undead characters into New Orleans's underworld of witches, and then to the jungles of Central America. Charismatic, biracial Merrick Mayfair comes from a New Orleans caste bound up with traditions of voodoo; she's also descended from the powerful Mayfair witch clan. Once a supernatural detective, now a vampire himself, narrator David Talbot took care of Merrick when she was in her teens, but hasn't seen her in years. Rice-watchers will remember Talbot and the Mayfairs, and also the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac and the girl Claudia, who now torments Louis from the afterworld. When Louis asks Talbot to raise Claudia's ghost, Talbot pleads with Merrick to use her rare talents--and to revisit the past they share. Can Merrick really conjure the dead? Should she? What of the unspoken erotic charge between Talbot and Merrick? What secrets lie in the magical artifacts Merrick will have to find, and then to wield? And what do they have to do with her dead parents? This volume merges several long-running plots; the first chapters sag with the weight of their exposition, and the prose seems overheated even for Rice. Vampire fans will no doubt plunge on, however; soon enough, Merrick must revisit the Guatemalan rainforest, where she traveled as a young girl, to locate a secret treasure trove of ominous ancient runes. Displaying her imaginative talents for atmosphere and suspense, Rice creates a riveting scene that shows Merrick's awesome magic at work. A potent cameo from the vampire Lestat, with whom the fabled series began, leaves hints of more dark tales to come. 750,000 first printing; BOMC and Science Fiction Book Club main selections; Literary Guild selection; QPB alternate; Doubleday Book Club featured alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2000 Release date: 10/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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