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Anne Rice is back, with more werewolves, gothic mansions and epic battles between good and evil
It is the beginning of December and it is cold and grey outside. In the stately flickering hearths of the grand mansion of Nideck Point, oak fires are burning. The Morphenkinder are busy getting ready for the ancient pagan feast of midwinter. Everyone is invited, including some of their own who do not wish them well...
Reuben Golding, the newest of the Morphenkinder, is struggling with his new existence as a Man Wolf, struggling to learn to control his desires and bloodthirsty urges. His pure, luminous girlfriend Laura seems all set to join him in this new way of life, but Reuben is not at all certain he will love her if she becomes as he is. Beyond the mansion, the forest echoes with howling winds, which carry with them tales of a strange nether world, and of spirits – centuries old – who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers.
As preparations for the feast gather pace, destiny continues to hound Reuben, not least in the form of a strange, tormented ghost who appears at the window, unable to speak. But he is not alone: before the festivities are over, choices must be made – choices which will decide the fate of the Morphenkinder for ever.
Reuben Golding is a new werewolf (following the events of 2012's The Wolf Gift). He now lives in a Northern California mansion with his mentor, Felix, and other shapeshifters, occasionally killing evildoers as the vigilante called Man Wolf. Readers expecting urban fantasy action will be surprised: this is mostly a moody family drama, as Reuben plans for the birth of his child by his ex-girlfriend Celeste and copes with the transformation of his new lover, Laura, into a shapeshifter. Reuben and his brother, Father Jim, a priest, also struggle with issues of faith, justice, and the afterlife. Meanwhile, Felix plans a giant Christmas celebration for the entire village and frets about his ghostly niece, Marchent. New conflicts and antagonists are introduced and dealt with in a late rush, and Reuben's forays as Man Wolf are perfunctory, taking up fewer pages than the party planning. Still, the book is not without charm: Reuben and Felix are sympathetic protagonists, and the series mythology, suggesting that the fair folk may be evolved human ghosts, is fascinating.