After a sojourn into other worlds, Anne Rice returns to dark, sensual and mesmerizing territory with the first novel of New Tales of the Vampires. She opens doors into the lives of characters readers have met in the Lestat novels. Pandora, one of the very first to know the blood hunger, allows readers a glimpse into the earliest days of the vampire's startling existence.

The tales will be linked together by David Talbot, the "new" vampire, whose thirst for knowledge leads him to Pandora. He feels compelled to reveal her beginnings as a vampire.

Reaching back to the Rome of Ovid and Augustus Caesar, Lydia (Pandora) recounts her role as the daughter of a revered leader, her first meeting with the mortal Marius, the destruction of her family by treachery and her escape to Antioch where she encounters a new Marius. There she begins to understand her blood lust visions.

Bright, educated and spoiled, Pandora has no idea of the world she tempts as she travels to Isistemple and the very door of a new life.

Sweeping from ancient times to 18th-century Paris, and finally to the 20th century, her decision to find Lestat in New Orleans takes readers on Pandora's journey to immortality and into the heart of the vampire's creation.

PANDORA presents a sliver of the vampire world illuminated and then slipping away again. With her powerful imagery and rich prose, Anne Rice compels readers to come away into the shrouded, night world. Bask in the knowledge they gain from Pandora's special memoir. (Mar., 350 pp., $19.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin