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The Book of the Dead (Secret Books of Paradys) Hardcover – December 1, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ambience of fin de siecle France imbues these eight gothic tales in the third volume in Lee's Secret Books of Paradys tetralogy, tracing the tortured lives once led by those buried in the crypts and cemeteries of the mythical (or forgotten) city of Paradys. "The Weasel Bride" twists a folktale about a man who marries an enchanted weasel and dies of her bite into an account of a young husband who kills his beloved bride on their wedding night and takes her dreadful secret to the gallows. The artist in "The Glass Dagger," who normally saves her emotion for her art, is consumed by jealous rage and turns to supernatural revenge when a jaded aristocrat tries an old stratagem to win her love. In "The Moon Is a Mask" a drudge who creates a world of beauty in her garret room steals to buy a mask that turns her into a vampire owl. The miasma of corruption and death, combined with vivid and at times elegiac writing will engross readers who fancy this dark shade of fantasy writing.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Third of Lee's hitherto impressive Secret Books of Paradys: eight odd tales set in a forgotten French city where magic works and horrid things lurk in dark corners. Here, alas, the atmospheric backdrop of dread and sexual tension has gone missing, leaving only a few ghoulish scraps. Even more sadly, the stories vary widely in quality--indeed some are structurally perfunctory, held together only by Lee's still rich, evocative, limpid prose. The absence of a unifying theme doesn't help. Thus: a vagina with teeth; voodoo; a Typhoid Mary variant; a curse exposed as mere superstition; a supernatural conjuror; and, in a somewhat more satisfying vein, an intriguing Lost World variant, a vengeful woman artist, and a vampire-harpy betrayed by her lover. Slight and disappointingly mediocre fare after splendid work (The Book of the Beast, 1991) last time out. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Secret Books of Paradys (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (December 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087951440X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879514402
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,752,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
True to the color motifs of the Paradys Tetralogy, "The Book of the Dead" (third in the series, although I read it last) is subtitled "Le Livre Blanc et Noir" and takes place, for the most part, in the possessed, twilight city of Paradys, the Paris of a darkened alternate world. Other than the common setting and a few literary twists here and there, there is not much to link "The Book of the Dead" to its fellows. (Although I did like the hint that Leocadia, protagonist of "The Book of the Mad," was the author of this volume...) With two exceptions, "The Nightmare's Tale" and "The Moon Is A Mask," the eight stories collected in this book are weird and ghoulish, but hardly up to the dark and fascinating standards of the rest of the Tetralogy.
For the sake of the two aforementioned exceptions, I will recommend "The Book of the Dead." These were stories that remained with me after the pages had closed; they had some of that blend of fascination and repulsion, darkness, tragedy, and resolution that so characterizes Paradys. "The Nightmare's Tale" takes place perhaps twenty years after the Paradys equivalent of the French Revolution, when young Jean de St. Jean (possibly a sideways relative of Andre St. Jean, the poet of "The Book of the Damned") learns that the man who sent his parents to the guillotine is still alive and living on the Caribbean island of Black Haissa. Sailing across the ocean in search of revenge, Jean de St. Jean discovers that there is much more to the business of vengeance than he expected, especially when it comes to the price. Though the atmosphere is not the city setting of Paradys, the mystery shrouding Haissa is expertly evoked, Jean de St.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on August 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Imagine Anne Rice in her prime writing the best dark fantasy ever done, and you might get some idea of what Tanith Lee accomplished in these two books that take place in her mythical French city of Paradys. Short stories and two novellas set over the course of many centuries in the same darkly dangerous and strange French city, Paradys, take one along on a ride that begins where the Twilight Zone ends and proceeds straight out the other side of disbelief and non-reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was the first book of Tanith Lee I read. Immediately, I was striken by the magic of the language and the plot. The eight stories in this volume are excellent examples of Tanith Lee's talent. All the stories are situated in a forgotten French city somewhere in the 17th-century. Led by a mysterious guide, an anonymous I-person visits the ancient graveyard of Paradys. The guide points out eight graves and tells the story that goes with them. The result is a collection of thrilling stories about a vagina with teeth; a quest for a secret valley; a voodoo-dripping horror story; a typical Lee vampire; a plague-woman; the real dream of a girl; a woman called Morcara; and a female artist who posesses a glass dagger. Although the erotic element in these stories is nihil, they each have that undefinable taste of the unreal that Tanith Lee can summon so well. As always, she manages to make me shiver, just by describing the city. There are, however, things I really miss. The extra dimension behind the thrill, for example. After I had read more of her novels, I re-read 'The Book of the Dead' and I was expecting that extra dimension, but was a bit disappointed. This is not Tanith Lee at her best, but it is a very good try.
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The Book of the Dead (Secret Books of Paradys)
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