March 23, 1998 12:00 PM

by Anne Rice

For fans of Anne Rice’s vampire books, this fictional memoir holds a lot of promise. In it, newly initiated vampire David Talbot—a former member of the Talamasca Society, an organization that collects tales of the supernatural—has persuaded the ancient, enigmatic Pandora to write the story of how the elder vampire Marius came to bestow the Dark Gift of immortality upon her more than 2,000 years ago.

But the promising premise falls flat because Pandora comes off as a pill and her story lacks the drama and sensuality of Rice’s other best-selling vampire tales. Pandora spends an annoyingly long time pointing out how clever, wealthy, high-born and independent she was as a mortal girl growing up in ancient Rome, where Marius fell in love with her. Once Marius nibbles on Pandora’s neck, they live together and engage in 200 years of banal squabbling.

The historical details about classical Roman society—its politics, literature, dress and values—do add up to a fascinating picture, but only the most ardent readers, with an insatiable thirst for Rice’s vampire chronicles, will find this one satisfying. (Knopf, $19.95)

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