Here, Rice varies the seasoning for her famous dish: the damnation of immortality. Her new tale, a kind of B-picture novel, is a cross between Karloff's The Mummy, a comic strip, and a gothic romance. Rather than the cloth-of-purple-velvet of the first Lestate novel (Interview with a Vampire), Rice herein spools out gauzy underwriting whose thinness just bastes her story to the page. The virgin heroine is Julie Stratford, the sought-after daughter of a retired shipping magnate who has taken up his hobby full-time: Egyptology. On page one her father discovers the cursed tomb of Ramses the Second--who somehow has been entombed in a site inscribed with Roman and Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphs from the period of Cleopatra--a thousand years after the death of Ramses! Indeed, Ramses, who mastered the elixir of immortality, would return to life from time to time to help out a bewildered Pharaoh when Egypt was in trouble. Unfortunately, he fell for Cleopatra, but she only wanted him to grant immortality to Antony. Now Julie's father is murdered by her besotted rotter of a cousin, who uses a poison from the tomb, and Julie becomes independently wealthy. She takes Ramses' casket (on its way to the British Museum) to her fancy London home--where Ramses springs back to health to save Julie from her murderous cousin. Ramses is superhumanly intelligent, strong, royal, and indestructible, and Rice dangles Julie's virginity under his nose for better than half the book. Ramses' adventures in 1930's London are fairly amusing, as is his return to Cairo. When Ramses recovers the body of Cleopatra from Nile mud and gives her corpse the elixir, he awakens a monster who is nonetheless Julie's chief rival (Julie and Cleo meet in the powder room at the opera). Should Julie drink the awful elixir and join Ramses in the damnation of immortality? There is no question about Rice losing any fans with this lightsome, almost chirpily horrorless horror romance: she won't. Meanwhile, more adventures of Ramses are planned.