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Midnight Harvest
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Warner Aspect, 434 pages

Midnight Harvest
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
In addition to the dozen or so vampire novels of Saint-Germain and those featuring Atta Olivia Clemens, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has written a host of terrific novels over the years including Time of the Fourth Horseman (1976), Ariosto (1980), Nomads (1984), A Baroque Fable (1986) and Floating Illusions (1986).

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Palace
SF Site Review: Blood Roses
SF Site Review: Writ in Blood

Interview: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Linköping SF Archive: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Ferenc Ragoczy, le Comte de Saint-Germain, knows that the increasing unrest in Spain may well force him to close his household and leave. This is not something he hasn't done many times before. But this time, he is unwilling to allow the airplane manufacturing plant he worked so hard to build to fall into the hands of the government. It will surely use the planes in war against its own people. His loud refusal will make one official send an assassin to track him down, even after he flees Spain with his faithful manservant Rogerio by his side, for the official fears the actions that he might take to get his factory back.

It is the mid-30s, a time when Spain is heading for a bloody civil war, where Germany is becoming more dangerous by the day, and where North America is burdened by the Great Depression. Nowhere is particularly safe for a vampire in these turbulent times, but Saint-Germain decides to go to San Francisco, where he can renew his relationship with the lovely, if now older and much wiser Rowena Saxon, and visit a vineyard he's invested in. While the assassin slowly and ruthlessly tracks Saint-Germain's movements, he is trying to figure out how to best protect the winery -- and its owner's family -- from a group of racist thugs who seem determined to do anything they can to get rid of, even kill, anyone not white enough for their tastes.

One of the things I always enjoy about these books is how Ragoczy and Rogerio always adapt to the times we find them in. In one novel he can be riding the finest of steeds, in another he's behind the wheel of a beautiful car. He shows incredible flexibility and he has a quiet charisma that makes him irresistible to the ladies as well as to the reader. In Midnight Harvest, we get more of these aspects of his life. We get to see how, through a generosity of both cash and kindness, he makes the network of support that he desperately needs to keep the freedom of movement that has kept him alive for so many years. We also get to spend some pleasant time with Rogerio, who, despite the fact he's a ghoul (the only difference from him and Germain seems to be an appetite for raw flesh rather than blood, and a tolerance for daylight), is a gentlemanly and nice person, always concerned for his employer, who seems frustratingly unconcerned for himself.

It is also good to revisit Rowena Saxon. Readers may remember her from 1996's Writ in Blood and will agree, now that she's fifty, she's ripened from the sometimes girlish silliness of her past into a warmer, more steady creature. She is also one of those who've been with him, already, more than five times, which means that she will have to make the choice if she wants to stay a vampire when she dies. As one of the older characters to be a lover of Germain, she is closer to this reality than some of the younger characters, who often think that they're already immortal, anyway. While fifty is by no means old, it does mean that the possible vampirism means something more, a possibility of getting the things done that were not done and opens the doors to a million more possibilities. I wonder if Chelsea Quinn Yarbro'll revisit Rowena again, so that we find out what happens to her?

Cenere, or Ash, the assassin, is one of the creepiest of the villains I've read in this series. He's so charming, but then, I suppose, a snake might be charming, if it acted sweetly enough. Actually, I think we could have seen more of him and been quite happy.

This latest installment in the series again captures a time perfectly. One of the best things about this vampire series is that, through Germain's eyes, we get to see so many places in history. Since it's always mostly how Germain adapts to these times, it gives us a chance to enjoy these settings with the same basic set of rules. Definitely a strong addition to the series.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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