Intelligent mix of historical and modern-day vampirism, with the ninth return of Saberhagen's revisionist,...



Intelligent mix of historical and modern-day vampirism, with the ninth return of Saberhagen's revisionist, sharing-and-caring Prince Vlad Dracula (S‚ance for a Vampire, 1994, etc), the most honorable of the undead. The wry punning title focuses on both the wonderful new guillotine devised for safer, more humane beheadings during the French Revolution and the vampire's traditional neckjob. In 1996, newlyweds Phillip and June Radcliffe are kidnapped by ""Mr. Graves"" (Vlad) and beautiful Constantia (a sexy fifteen?--no, closer to four hundred) and locked up in a desert hideout where they must review a five-hour tape that recounts the history of vampirism during the heyday of the French blade. The two are told they've been sequestered for their own good. But is this Graves a lunatic? Gradually, they begin to grasp the hidden message in the tape. In 1792, an American ancestor, also named Phillip Radcliffe, was sent by George Washington to deliver a message to Tom Paine in Paris. There, he happened to perform a good deed for Vlad, who swore on his honor that he would protect Phillip. At the same time, Vlad's archenemy, his younger brother, Radu, who had been buried decapitated over a hundred years earlier, managed to get his head back on and has once more set out to destroy Vlad. Vlad can't kill Radu because of an oath he gave his father that he would protect his brother. Phillip is arrested by revolutionaries and is sentenced to death. Radu sets a trap for Vlad that depends on Vlad trying to save Phillip. The modern Phillip manages to escape the desert hideout and in fleeing attracts Radu. In both ages, Phillip is bait for the brothers' lethal Machiavellian traps. Meanwhile, we are given much background on the development of the guillotine, as well as on wax-casting for a museum of celebrities in Paris. Neat, sober Saberhagen and immensely engaging.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996


Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996