Sequel to The Meq (2004), a historical fantasy about a lost race that retains the appearance of children but lives for centuries.
This volume picks up the story after WWI, when Z, the narrator, returns to his home in St. Louis. There, he and his “family” (other Meq and the humans who have become their friends and protectors) try to understand what they have learned about themselves and their future. The Meq know that a mystical gathering of their kind, the Remembering, will occur within 100 years. Five of their number (including Z) carry Stones, objects that endow them with hypnotic powers and apparently will play a role in the Remembering. Rumors of a sixth stone of unknown powers have led the Fleur-du-Mal, the most feared of all Meq, to embark on a worldwide career of murder and torture in search of it. Now Z and his friends learn of another mysterious Meq, Susheela the Ninth, who may have the key to the sixth stone. Against this background Z travels around the world. He encounters such historical figures as Josephine Baker and Babe Ruth, learns to skin dive near Cuba, watches lots of baseball and survives several encounters with the Fleur-du-Mal. As the plot inches forward, the mood turns darker, moving inexorably toward another world war. The Meq locate Susheela the Ninth and partially resolve the issue of the sixth stone. But in the final pages, Z and his beloved Opari are separated, and the Fleur-du-Mal appears to have orchestrated the most terrible mass killing in his long career. As in the first volume, Cash makes effective use of setting and history, but the plot proceeds glacially.
Not for readers who prefer the fast and furious, but charming in its way.