Second of Lee's projected four-book fantasy series (The Book of the Damned, 1990), set in the forgotten French city Paradys: nine linked stories that add up to a well-rounded, satisfying whole. Young university student Raoulin discovers in his ruined- palace lodgings a ghostlike, sexually charged woman, Helise, whose horrible secret is that she is possessed by a mindless, ancient, bird-headed demon; the demon propagates itself through the sperm or womb of its victims. Helise was infected by her husband, a chaste and honorable man, because she could not restrain her lust for him. Now, having achieved the demon's purpose by infecting Raoulin, she collapses into dust. Raoulin attempts suicide, but the demon will not let him die; eventually coming to his aid will be a Jewish magician and his daughter, who are aware of the demon's Roman origins and subsequent history. Together they will attempt to cast forth the Beast. Top-notch demonology and atmosphere, with convincingly developed characters, but it is Lee's talent for realizing an exquisite and appalling mingling of lust and horror, sexual pleasure and loathing, yearning and revulsion, that drives the book and its readers from cover to cover. Enthralling.