Anna, white-haired and grey-eyed, is born into the luxurious and mysterious family of Scarabae, a family of inhuman age and consuming passions. As she matures, it becomes clear that she shares some of their blood, for at three she appears sixteen, and holds knowledge known only to her dead sister Ruth... Suddenly Anna, along with a score of other children, is kidnapped and carried away to the end of the earth, to the pyramid hidden in the Southern ice that is home to the terrible immortal named Cain.
The darkness that permeated the first two novels of Lee's Blood Opera Sequence (Dark Dance and Personal Darkness, both paperback originals) becomes nearly impenetrable in this third book of the Scarabae, an ancient vampire clan. The family diaspora forced by the fratricidal rampage of Ruth, the ``bad seed'' born to Rachaela Day in Personal Darkness, continues here, with several Scarabae roaming the English countryside in the guise of bikers while Rachaela settles down in London with the androgyne Althene Simon to give birth to their child, Anna. Physically and mentally precocious, Anna looks like an adolescent at age two, and manifests unhealthy signs that she is a reincarnation of Ruth. While other Scarabae seek unobtrusive niches in the world, Anna is abducted to a subterranean mock-up of Egypt by a mysterious patriarch named Cain, to act out the centuries-old power struggles that have shaped the clan. Although filled with mystery and foreboding, the story takes too long to gel. Lee spends much of the tale cataloguing the quirks of the Scarabae, who grow younger as they age, and describing their clothing and meals. The result is a narrative mired in a decadence that impedes forward momentum. The author is still the undisputed queen of contemporary gothic fantasy, but this novel leaves a taste of reheated Rice in the reader's mouth.