This is one of those books that’s sort of always been around in my reading consciousness. It came out when I was in high school, and being a big Stephen King fan, and being new to figuring out what books to read on my own, it came across my radar and has stuck with me sense. I’m finally reading it, after reading a different Due book a year or so ago, and it’s actually a lot different than I thought.
I had it in my brain that it would have some similarities to the first book in the Patternmaster (Wild Seed) books by Octavia Butler, or even Bro by Vladmir Sorokin, where an already established novel is given a backstory that fills in a lot of details, but also erases a lot of the fun mystery. Wild Seed by Octavia is, I think, the third written novel but the first chronologically, and it sort of uncomplicates what’s fun and mysterious about the other novels.
Anyway, what I mean here, is that I thought this book would almost entirely take place in the ancient Ethiopia with the founding of the sect of Eternals, and while that does sound interesting to me, and who knows, maybe another of the books here will do that, I wanted contemporary complications. And that’s what we got. Also I think this was about vampires, and it’s not. Anyway, we meet Jessica, a reporter who is about to launch a new book project, married to David, and with one young daughter. Their marriage seems to be going great. She met David in college where he was a young Spanish professor (although his expertise is in music) and he was so alluring and mature, but also young and very beautiful. They get together, they get married, and have their baby. In her new book though, she’s investigating retirement home deaths, and one other death stands out as curious. We quickly find out that David is actually a thousands year old immortal scholar from Ethiopia who drank the blood of an eternal and entered into a pact to keep their secret forever. He’s had many lifetimes, many wives, many children, and the death being investigated was actually David killing her elderly daughter in an act of mercy. This means David’s secret is in danger. And so is Jessica. So it goes from there.
It’s a very 90s book by the way. Sometimes it reads like rom (dram? com?) novel by Terry McMillan, who gets name dropped, or Bebe Moore Campbell, in its discussions dating life in the Black (middle-class) community. And even has some very 90s attitudes about AIDS and homosexuality, that I would hope fade in the background. The ancient history/historical novel aspects when they show up are light (I am not a giant historical fiction fan) and the focus remains of the contemporary story.