cover image Firefly


Piers Anthony. William Morrow & Company, $18.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09705-9

Using the same Florida setting as his horror novel Shade of the Tree , Anthony here conjures up a nightmarish creature who stalks humans through sexual attraction and leaves them grotesquely sucked dry of their protoplasm. When bodies reduced to skin and skeleton are found on a remote wildlife sanctuary, the reclusive owner of the estate refuses to call in outside help to track down the killer. His employees are left to fend for themselves against the menace of a predator who lures them in the way a firefly traps its prey--by emitting pheromones, powerfully sexual chemicals--and uses digestive acids to dissolve the bodies of its victims. Speculating about the power of an alien monster to decimate the human race, Anthony devotes much of the narrative to plumbing his characters' past experiences, many of them couched in allegorical terms, and examining the differences between love and sex, with emphasis on sexual abuse. Absorbed in working out his theme, Anthony unfortunately overlooks flawed logic and plot inconsistencies. While some readers may find his ideas intriguing, many will be put off by a narrative that verges on the pornographic. (Oct.)