cover image THE BITTEN: A Vampire Huntress Legend

THE BITTEN: A Vampire Huntress Legend

L. A. Banks, . . St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32408-7

At the start of Banks's seductive fourth Vampire Huntress Legend fantasy (after 2004's The Awakening ), former crime lord/master vampire Carlos Rivera bites his lover, hot hip-hop artist/gifted slayer Damali Richards, and she bites back. This passionate exchange puts Damali's humanity and the fate of the world at risk. As Damali and Carlos struggle with the implications of their bond, the pair work with Damali's Guardian team to recover a "key" containing the blood of Christ (extracted from the Shroud of Turin), which another master vampire has hijacked and injected into an unwilling human. The key's spilled blood could open the seal that unleashes Armageddon: "If he's able to open that seal, then everything you learned in Catholic school about the book of Revelations will go down. All Hell will literally break loose, hombre . You feel me?" To prevent this cataclysm and the sacrifice of an innocent victim, the couple travel to Australia, where they play a high-stakes game with four topside master vampires, with life-changing results. Mixing religion with erotic horror dosed with a funky African-American beat, Banks blithely piles on layer after layer of densely detailed plot, which might overwhelm new readers but will delight established fans. Banks creates smokin' sex scenes that easily out-vamp Laurell K. Hamilton's, though they sometimes scream for tighter editing. Agent, Manie Baron at the Claudia Menza Agency. (Feb. 9)