cover image The Living Blood

The Living Blood

Tananarive Due. Atria Books, $25.95 (528pp) ISBN 978-0-671-04083-3

Like the hurricane that threatens Florida at its climax, this stunning sequel to My Soul to Keep (1997) is an event of sustained power and energy. Its predecessor introduced Jessica Jacob-Wolde, a journalist who belatedly discovers that her ""perfect"" husband, David, is a renegade from a secretive 1,000-year-old clan of Ethiopian immortals who will kill to prevent members from sharing their life-extending blood with mortals. David has returned to Africa to do penance among his Life Brothers, and Jessica, whom he resurrected from the dead with a transfusion from himself, follows close behind, setting up a jungle clinic to dispense dilutions of her blood as medicine. Jessica's daughter Fana, whom David did not know Jessica was pregnant with when he transfused her, has begun to show magical powers, and her precocious divinity is the catalyst for a volatile brew of subplots that includes a violent schism among the Life Brothers, an alternative medicine guru's desperate efforts to save his leukemic son with Jessica's blood and a force of unspeakable evil trying to channel itself through Fana. Due exercises assured control over her wildly gyrating story, exploring its drama in terms of African culture, African-American experience and a variety of parent-child relationships. What's more, she fuses clich d themes from a variety of genres jungle adventure, transcontinental espionage, natural disaster into an amalgam that reclaims their powers to excite. A rare example of a sequel that improves upon the original, this novel also should set a standard for supernatural thrillers of the new millennium. Agent, Jack Hawkins. (Apr. 10) Forecast: My Soul to Keep was one of the most talked-about debuts in the horror field since the advent of Stephen King. Expect heavy interest and like sales for this sequel.