cover image A Whisper of Blood

A Whisper of Blood

. William Morrow & Company, $22 (287pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10361-3

This consistently engrossing anthology of 18 stories is an extension of Datlow's first collection of vampire tales, Blood Is Not Enough . But for the most part the vampires here are not literal, and can be seen as a metaphor for negative relationships. In the bleak and Kafkaesque ``Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?'' by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, a secret government agency is deliberately draining one of its agents of his identity. Further distortions of normal relations appear in the wry tale ``The Slug'' by Edward Wagner, in which one university colleague impinges on another's jealousy guarded creative time--with macabre results. A novel form of bloodletting is viewed in ``Warm Man'' by Robert Silverberg, in which an enigmatic visitor to a small town exercises a sort of psychic vampirism when the residents inexplicably pour out their secrets to him. Those who like their vampires in the traditional mold will take to Rose Blum in ``Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep'' by Suzy McKee Charnas. Rose has just died, but is willing to try anything to be able to stick around for a while longer. Ranging from the grotesque to the pleasantly lurid, these tales are of unvaryingly high quality. Readers looking for shock and horror will be gratified; those who want fangs in the neck, however, must settle for tongue in cheek. BOMC alternate. (Oct.)