cover image The Judas Glass

The Judas Glass

Michael Cadnum, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0239-8

Cadnum (Skyscraper) rings an original variation on the vampire theme with this haunting evocation of the sensual world lost beneath the routines of daily life. Narrator Richard Stirling is a youngish lawyer with a comfortable Bay Area practice and a disintegrating marriage when he cuts his hand on a mysterious antique mirror. The injury gives him an abnormal sensitivity to his surroundings, the first symptom of a nascent vampirism that consumes him after his accidental death. Liberated from the tunnel vision of his mortality, Richard finds himself intoxicated with a new appreciation of the living world and resurrects his murdered mistress, Rebecca, to share his strange existence. ``We could imagine ourselves to be the beginning of creation, not fugitives from one,'' he remarks as they traverse the countryside, fleeing pursuers and reveling in the wonders of nature. But their superhuman awareness only drives home how unnatural their unlife is, and Richard determines to reacquire the mirror and regain his humanity. Cadnum brings an intensity of vision to this novel found in few other vampire stories. Richard's initial emergence from his coffin is a narrative tour de force of terror and confusion, and the book abounds with insights on how our mortality shapes our understanding of the world. In St. Peter's Wolf, Cadnum leveraged the werewolf theme into a forceful exploration of the human condition; he does the same here with the vampire theme, in what is bound to be one of the more provocative horror novels of 1996. (Feb.)