The sequel and conclusion to Rice's The Witching Hour (1990) shows Rice both at her best and at her hackiest. Volume One brought forth the Mayfair Witches, an incestuous family in New Orleans' steamy Garden District, headed by supersurgeon Rowan Mayfair, who is putting some of the family's seven-and-a-half billion into the Mayfair Medical Institute. At that novel's end, Rowan had given birth to an "entity" on the living-room rug that, assuming human shape, had nearly killed husband Michael in the swimming pool, then abducted Rowan. Now the evil being--which looks like Durer's Christ and has been using witches in the Mayfair line to have itself reborn after dying time and again since the earliest days of the Reformation in Scotland-- is skipping about Europe while trying to breed with Rowan and give birth to a female demon. But these porny pages don't arrive until we wade through 200 tediously undramatic sheets of dialogue filler quite lacking in storytelling oomph--though we are treated to teenygenius Mona Mayfair's seduction of the recovering Michael. All this is a case of background detail turning story into tapestry. Once Rice plunges us into Rowan's long rape, two miscarriages, and at last the birth of Emaleth, sister/wife for Rowan's demonic son Lasher, the novel lights up with rocket blast. How will Rowan escape her tyrant son, whose endless suckling and inseminating keeps her constantly orgasmic and horrified? But pigging out on Rowan's plight takes up only about 200 pages all told, and then more background filler--well, the novel's huge mythic underpinning- -dims our spirits, although the story of Uncle Julien, as told by Julien's ghost to Michael, dances nicely. Too much Rice-A-Roni, but addicts will lick the pot.