Riotously inventive horror fantasy, the second novel by the author
of the wildly original The Night Mayor (1990). Newman trumps up
some superbly clever devices here, and at last creates a heroine we
can care about, or almost care about, before she fades into the
Dreamscape. The American sisters Anne and Judi Neilson and their
half-brother Cameron Neilson III (a famous minimalist composer),
children of Nobel Prize playwright Cameron Neilson, live in London,
where Anne writes and Judi, a junkie S&M prostitute, hires
herself out to be beaten. In the first chapter, Judi is eaten alive
while turning a trick, or has the blood and most of her flesh
sucked out of her, as well as her mind and memory, by Mr. Skinner,
a vampire known as the King of the Cats, or leader of the Kind, who
was once a master of the now-vanished Immortal Empire. Very few
vampires still walk about, and Mr. Skinner himself has only one
rival, Ariadne, a sexy vamp much older, smarter, and more powerful
than he. Anne tries to trace Judi's path through the whoreworld to
find out just how her sister's corpse had aged into a very old
woman's. Judi's prostitute friend Nina leads Anne to the mansion of
Amelia Doff ("It was the kind of quietly well-off residential
street where mass murderers live..." - a kind of Karloffian
understatement) where an S&M party is in full swing, ruled by
the Game Master, Mr. Skinner. We'll say no more, only that Mr.
Skinner's vampirism is a boldly invented passionate state that can
barely be contained by human form; that the Old Dark House becomes
a dream house in which rooms lead into mindrooms into dreamrooms;
that at one point Mr. Skinner falls into a feeding frenzy and eats
up the whole party, then licks his lizard-long tongue at Anne and
begins chasing her through the walls.... When you meet Mr. Skinner,
remember that he bears the memories of all his victims, and that
when you join him you join all of them as well. Comforting. (Kirkus
A horror novel in which Anne Nielson finds that London is fast
turning from a dream city into a nightmare, but things get much
worse when she meets a monster who festers at the center of his
lucid dream, a creator and destroyer who can manipulate all that
she experiences. From the author of LIFE'S LOTTERY and JAGO.
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