Nebula and World Fantasy award winner Shepard (Kalimantan, The Ends of the Earth) here enters the current vampire novel sweepstakes, breathing new life into some shopworn conventions with flowing, seductive prose and lush imagery. Young vampire Michel Beheim comes to the Castle Banat in Eastern Europe with his mentor, Lord Roland Agenor, for the ritual Decanting, at which the extended vampire Family will share in the rare blood of the specially bred victim called the Golden. But when the Golden is brutally murdered before the event, Agenor puts Beheim, once chief of detectives for the Paris police, in charge of the investigation. Soon the young vampire is embroiled in family intrigues and facing the fearsome Patriarch of the vampires himself. Beheim's investigation becomes an odyssey of personal growth as he confronts his vampire nature with all its internal conflicts, including his uncertain feelings for his human servant, Giselle, and his growing love for a lovely vampire, Lady Alexandra Conforti, whom he cannot bring himself to trust. Shepard adds a wild, phantasmagoric element to his vampire lore through the sprawling mystery of Castle Banat, and through his focus on vampires interacting among themselves rather than roaming the world of mortals as do the caped counts and modern nightclub stalkers who crowd most nosferatu novels.
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