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The author of Lord of the Dead (1995), the story of the wildly bipolar Lord Byron becoming ruler of the planet's vampires at age 19, returns with a sequel and a fresh look at London's bloodsuckers. The story opens as a satirically rip-roaring 19th-century boy's adventure modeled on Gunga Din. A small group of ramrod British soldiers attack a temple of Kali high up in the Himalayas, only to find themselves facing Russian zombie/vampires enthralled by the goddess of destruction-and-bloodlust: She takes the form of a ravishingly beautiful vision of sexual horror named Lilah, who later turns up in London. The very amusing first 70 pages--as stiff-lipped British noncoms battle flesh-eating ghouls, and as Dr. John Eliot, also in India, investigates a horrible infection that melts brains and wastes the body, as well as a princely fortune that suddenly vanishes--are worth the ticket price. Eliot's research eventually sets him on Lilah's trail. Back in London, he's joined by theater manager Brain Stoker, who has not yet written Dracula but becomes knowledgeable about vampires while playing muddle-brow Watson to Eliot's Holmes. Eliot is enjoined by a young actress, Miss Lucy Ruthven, to look into her brother Arthur's murder and the disappearance of her guardian, Sir George Mowberley. The two men had been heading a parliamentary bill that would have a major impact on India. Trailing the lost jewels of Kalikshutra at last leads Eliot to Lilah and to a ghastly facedown with this supremely corrupted immortal who bathes in blood in a golden tub. Then come the real surprises--and Byron's return. The Victorian voice used throughout may have been fun to mimic, but Holland's own voice would have given him more intensity. Even Dracula's epistolary style can stultify.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 067154053X
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Pocket