Commedia della Morte
The 25th volume in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s venerated Saint-Germain series finds the vampire in Revolutionary France on a rescue mission to save his beloved progeny, Madelaine, from the guillotine’s blade and thus the True Death. To infiltrate this dangerous world Saint-Germain becomes the patron of a traveling troupe of actors called the Commedia della Morte, joining them on stage (and, in the case of the beautiful Photine, in bed) as he tries to find Madelaine and plan her escape before it’s too late. But as always Saint-Germain cannot avoid attracting attention, and he soon finds himself threatened by enemies both inside and outside the troupe; now it is not only Madelaine in danger of the True Death, but himself as well.
Fans of this series will recognize the familiar themes recurring in previous installments; as always, what the novel lacks in plot innovation it makes up for in rich descriptions and impeccable attention to historical detail. Saint-Germain stories are slow-paced, focused more on building the historical atmosphere than advancing the action. The downside of this is a lack of suspense – since the novels bounce around in time, there’s no real sense of danger – but the highlight is the opportunity to see a darker side of Saint-Germain, to watch him become a little less perfect and a little more ruthless. His fans, and Yarbro’s, will not be disappointed.