Catalan poet and novelist Perucho makes a disappointing first appearance in English with this elliptical, impressionistic, overwrought vampire novel set in war-torn 1830 Spain. There are no chills here, and the only thrills come from sporadically impressive imagery (""Time had settled, with a gentle sound like impalpable ash. . ."") solidifying an otherwise ratified tale of an aristocratic naturalist, Antoni de Montpalau, and his search for a vampire plaguing a rural Spanish village. Montpalau arrives at the village of Pratdip in a flurry of mysterious episodes--strange shadows flitting through doorways, an attack by a diabolical bull, a giant phallic mushroom sprouting in a cemetery. He stalks the vampire to an ancient castle, but the monster escapes, now disguised as a vicious Carlist (i.e., reactionary) guerrilla leader known as ""the Owl."" After many complications that mercilessly plunge the reader into the labyinthine intricacies of the Carlist civil wars, Montpalau finally exorcises the vampire, winning a fair maiden and saving a Carlist commander in the process. The plotline seems almost superfluous, though--an excuse for Perucho to churn out surreal devices (a pneumatic harp, a land of giant fleas) and vaporous prose (""An ethereal lady approached him. Transparent, Winged, pondered, uttered, written, and dreamt, she stood at the victim's side. . .""). Salem's Lot wrapped in lavender gauze. The political moral, presumably striking to Spaniards, will remain opaque to all Americans unversed in the byways of Spanish history. Only for admirers of arch curios.