A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #26:-
Chatto & Windus, £16.99
reviewed by Peter Tennant
Set in New Orleans, Merrick deepens the connections between Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and her tales of the Mayfair Witches. David Talbot, once an important member of the Talamasca, an organisation dedicated to keeping track of supernatural occurrences, and now a powerful vampire, is concerned for his friend Louis, still haunted by the death of child vampire Claudia. He contacts his old lover Merrick Mayfair, a Talamasca member and witch of great ability, to raise the spirit of Claudia and put Louis’s mind at rest, but Merrick has plans of her own.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Rice since Interview and it came as a pleasant surprise. After a slow start the book gains pace and soon becomes compelling as Merrick’s back story is filled in, her whole fascinating history, conjuring up visions of some other reality, a world steeped in magic and mystery just one step beyond the ordinary, everyday streets of our own. The magic scenes are some of the best that I’ve read, convincing in their detail and vividly realised on the page, while the larger than life characters strike mythic resonances. For all that though there’s a marking time feel to the book, the sense that this is just a curtain raiser for some grand conflict to come, strongly hinted at in the final pages.