Thursday, November 7, 2013
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
From random house:
Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice takes us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point, and further explores the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.
The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide.
For Reuben Golding, now infused with the Wolf Gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this promises to be a Christmas like no other . . .
The Yuletide season, sacred to much of the human race, has been equally sacred to the Man Wolves, and Reuben soon becomes aware that they, too, steeped in their own profound rituals, will celebrate the ancient Midwinter festival deep within the verdant richness of Nideck forest.
From out of the shadows of Nideck comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with—and drawn to—the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence, and as the swirl of preparations reaches a fever pitch for the Nideck town Christmas festival of music and pageantry, astonishing secrets are revealed; secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits other than the Morphenkinder, centuries old, who inhabit the dense stretches of redwood and oak that surround the magnificent house at Nideck Point, “ageless ones” who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and who taunt with their dark magical powers . . .
The house slept.
Reuben came down the stairs in his slippers and heavy wool robe.
Jean Pierre, who often took the night shift, was sleeping on his folded arms at the kitchen counter.
The fire in the library was not quite out.
Reuben stirred it, brought it back to life, and took a book from the shelves and did something he had always wanted to do. He curled up in the window seat against the cold window, comfortable enough on the velvet cushions, with a throw pillow between him and the damp chill panes.
The rain was flooding down the glass only inches from his eyes.
The lamp on the desk was sufficient for him to read a little. And a little, in this dim uncommitted light, was all he wanted to read.
It was a book on the ancient Near East. It seemed to Reuben he cared passionately about it, about the whole question of where some momentous anthropological development had occurred, but he lost the thread almost at once. He put his head back against the wood paneling and he stared through narrow eyes at the small dancing flames on the hearth.
Some errant wind blasted the panes. The rain hit the glass like so many tiny pellets. And then there came that sighing of the house that Reuben heard so often when he was alone like this and perfectly still.
He felt safe and happy, and eager to see Laura, eager to do his best. His family would love the open house on the sixteenth, simply love it. Grace and Phil had never been more than casual entertainers of their closest friends. Jim would think it wonderful, and they would talk. Yes, Jim and Reuben had to talk. It wasn’t merely that Jim was the only one of them who knew Reuben, knew his secrets, knew everything. It was that he was worried about Jim, worried about what the burden of the secrets was doing to him. What in God’s name was Jim suffering, a priest bound by the oath of the Confessional, knowing such secrets which he could not mention to another living being? He missed Jim terribly. He wished he could call Jim now.
Reuben began to doze. He shook himself awake and pulled the soft shapeless collar of his robe close around his neck. He had a sudden “awareness” that somebody was close to him, somebody, and it was as if he’d been talking to that person, but now he was violently awake and certain this could not possibly be so.
He looked up and to his left. He expected the darkness of the night to be sealed up against the window as all the outside lights had long ago gone off.
But he saw a figure standing there, looking down at him, and he realized he was looking at Marchent Nideck, and that she was peering at him from only inches beyond the glass.
Marchent. Marchent, who had been savagely murdered in this house.
His terror was total. Yet he didn’t move. He felt the terror, like something breaking out all over his skin. He continued to stare at her, resisting with all his might the urge to move away.
Her pale eyes were slightly narrow, rimmed in red, and fixing him as if she were speaking to him, imploring him in some desperate way. Her lips were slightly parted, very fresh and soft and natural. And her cheeks were reddened as if from the cold.
The sound of Reuben’s heart was deafening in his ears, and so powerful in his arteries that he felt he couldn’t breathe.
She wore the negligee she’d worn the night she was killed. Pearls, white silk, and the lace, how beautiful was the lace, so thick, heavy, ornate. But it was streaked with blood, caked with blood. One of her hands gripped the lace at the throat—and there was the bracelet on that wrist, the thin delicate pearl chain she’d worn that day—and with the other hand she reached towards him as if her fingers might penetrate the glass.
Read more here.