One of my first introductions to supernatural literature was INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Anne Rice’s imagination thrilled me. She took a monster and made him erotic, forever changing how we view the undead. The original Dracula, as depicted by Bram Stoker, is horrific, a figure that evokes fear and dread. Lestat, on the other hand, oozes sensuality. His power is seductive, alluring. He mesmerizes so completely you want to offer him your life’s blood. When his fangs sink into your flesh, you swoon with ecstasy, one final, whole-body orgasm before death. What a way to go!

Rice’s 1976 book unleashed a frenzy of vampiric literature, including a slew of sequels from the grand dame herself. Unfortunately, not all of them matched the caliber of the first one. Most were vastly overwritten—LESTAT, in particular, was tediously redundant. An unfortunate result of her astounding success, it seems. She refused to have her work edited. The lean prose of INTERVIEW blew up in subsequent works, often subjecting readers to 500 pages that could have easily been whittled. (One exception is QUEEN OF THE DAMNED. It was very long and yet remained engrossing.)

Rice’s other books revealed an ongoing fixation with eroticism, from the sex lives of priests and castrati in CRY TO HEAVEN to the hardcore S&M of her SLEEPING BEAUTY trilogy (don’t read those if you’re at all queasy—they’re quite graphic). Even her WOLF books are sexual.

Yet Rice was a complex woman with openly acknowledged religious quandaries. Raised Catholic, she spurned the church, then rejoined it and left again. Many of her later works, such as CHRIST OUR LORD, which I haven’t read, deal with spiritual issues. You’ll find characters musing about God and the soul in books as diverse as the LIVES OF THE MAYFAIR WITCHES trilogy (terrific) and SERVANT OF THE BONES (awful).

Love her or hate her, there are few who can compare with Rice for ingenuity and skill. She took fiends we thought devoid of feeling and made them whole. Inhuman, malignant, yet consumed with dilemmas of the heart and mind and flesh. That’s quite a legacy for any author.

Thanks for reading. Wishing you all the very best in 2022.




A dragon who doesn’t eat girls, a seductive vampire, and a boy in search of his missing father.


Uprooted, Naomi Novik.

A dragon who’s really a wizard protects a village from a sinister forest. As compensation, he claims a girl to serve him every ten years. Sounds creepy, but it’s a wonderful exploration of the latest girl he chooses, Agniezska, and her journey of self-awareness as she becomes his assistant. There’s magic and monsters, sorcery and chivalry, but with a fresh twist. Very intense at times–the evil “Wood” is one nasty piece of work! Engrossing, with only a few missteps (scenes that border on abuse make it hard to believe Agnieszska would fall in love with the perpetrator ). Based on Polish and Russian folklore. Definitely recommended.

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2), Anne Rice.

I didn’t love this as much as Interview with the Vampire, but it’s still an absorbing read. We follow Lestat from his days as an aristocrat in pre-revolutionary France to his latest incarnation as a rock star in the 1980s. Throughout the centuries, he seeks others like him, trying to understand the mystery and meaning of his existence. A tad overwritten but Rice is so talented you can just skim through the redundancies and enjoy the ride.


The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins.

Before her mega-hit Hunger Games series, Collins penned a trilogy about a boy seeking his father in a strange world beneath New York City.

From Goodreads: When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

That’s it for this round. Thanks for reading.


Royalty living and dead, and supernatural worlds.


The Princess of Death, Courtney Pearson.

Cali is a spoiled princess whose world is turned upside down when a plague strikes her country, forcing her to try and cross a mysterious boundary to find a cure. A bit slow to start, but the story picks up with lively interactions between Cali the pirate king, Bae.  An intriguing premise behind the goddess of the sea as well. Pearson does a good job of exploring Cali’s dilemma over whether she should pursue duty or love. First of a series.

The Queen of the Damned (Vampire Chronicles #3), Anne Rice.

While I consider much of Rice’s work after Interview with the Vampire to be seriously bloated, I love this one. It features Lestat, whose kiss rouses Akesha, progenitor of the undead, from a 6,000-year ear sleep. She kills most of the world’s  vampires, saving a few to join her in a crusade against mortals.  Meanwhile, vampires and psychic humans around the globe are dreaming of twin red-haired women who weep over the body of another woman, whose eyes and brains are on a plate nearby. And then there’s Jesse, a member of the Telamasca, the secret society that collects data on paranormals. It’s a vast saga of dark sensual beings and has one of the most satisfying climaxes in her work. (BTW, the movie is so-so, although Stuart Townsend is good as Lestat.)


Paranormalcy, Kiersten White.

I’m not a big reader of urban fantasy but this series might change that. From Amazon: “Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours. She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.”

Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente

Sounds a bit kinky, to be honest: a world only accessed during sleep after sex? But the blurb is intriguing: “Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. . . . Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.”

Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading.