Mick Farren,
(Tor, 2000)

In this sequel to The Time of Feasting, Victor Renquist has led the remains of his colony of nosferatu from New York City to a canyon home near Los Angeles, where they settle into new lives of seclusion. Renquist spends his time mourning his lost consort Cynara, killed by a drunken ex-priest, until the night that he goes for a drive and discovers a very disturbing aura emanating from the Apogee Building in the city.

Elaine Dance has also come to Los Angeles from New York City, following a call that she hardly understands. She, too, had been in love with Cynara, who had been in the process of bringing Elaine across from the world of humanity to the world of the nosferatu. That process had been interrupted by Cynara's untimely death, and now Elaine is stuck halfway between worlds, not nosferatu, but not quite human anymore, either. She is the darklost of the title. Her one overwhelming desire is to find the hidden colony and join it -- or die.

The Church of the Apogee is a new age religion involving magic and the knowledge of one's own place in the universe, but it is also a cleverly disguised flim-flam operation taken to great heights. When one of the founding members of the Apogee goes off his rocker and decides to summon Cthulhu to Los Angeles, it is up to the nosferatu colony to save the world.

Darklost begins slowly. It then continues at a slow and leisurely pace, steadily building toward the ending. This is very much a character-driven book, more so than its prequel The Time of Feasting. The characters are all well fleshed-out, with some of the minor characters from the previous novel now given additional subtext. Despite relying on characterization rather than action to drive the story, the book is nevertheless difficult to put down.

On a technical note, the copyeditor should be taken out and flogged. I have never seen such a sloppy editing job as this. There is an average of one grammatical or punctuation mistake or missing word per page. In one scene, the wrong character's name was even used for a whole paragraph. Those sorts of mistakes distract the reader, causing her to fall out of the story to try and puzzle out the meaning of the sentence.

Despite the mistakes, however, Darklost is still a worthy sequel to The Time of Feasting. It is not necessary to have read the previous novel to follow the events of Darklost, although it might help with the extended history lesson in the middle of the book.

I would recommend Darklost to anyone who is interested in vampires, or loves dark fantasy. However, if editing mistakes bother you as much as they do me, you might want to wait for the paperback and see if the mistakes are corrected.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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