FIREFLY by Piers Anthony


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A rare horror novel from the prolific and popular fantasist--and one that is really an adult fantasy at heart, gaudily celebrating the magic and terror of lust and love. The monster here--the "firefly"--snares its victims through effusions of pheromones, then sucks up their flesh, leaving only skin and bones. More eerie than fearsome, Anthony brings it on stage--wisely--only deep into the novella: a Fright Night knockoff of a sea-born blob. Far more interesting are its human foes, charming misfits who are Anthony's real focus. Foremost are "Geode" Demerit, caretaker of the Florida estate on which the first victim is found, and "Oenone" Brown, a poor local housewife whose son, then husband, are consumed by the firefly--forcing her to take refuge in the estate's mansion. Intoxicated by the perfumes of the foraging firefly, Geode and Oenone fall in love, Geode losing his impotency and Oenone her mousiness. Parallel to their love story runs that of Frank Tishner, a local cop, and May Flowers, trouble-shooter for the absent owner of the estate. As these two conspire to destroy the firefly, they also fall in love. Yet both love stories are only flames for the novel's real canvas, a panel of tales that Oenone tells--ranging from a bittersweet fable about a raped princess to a truly shocking story of a sexually abused five-year, old seductress: Oenone herself as a child. And within the cracks between these story-bricks, the firefly hovers, killing relentlessly until it kills one of the lovers--leading to the insect's death: but what about those baby fireflies? In an afterword, Anthony calls this "a special novel. . .of more consequence than my fantasy." Fair enough--though the copious, almost pornographic, sex nearly overwhelms his inventive storytelling, rich with surprising characters and Chinese puzzle-box plotting.
Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1990
ISBN: 0380759500
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1990


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