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In this 12th installment of “The Vampire Chronicles,” Anne Rice brings back countless familiar creatures of the night, with the stately vampire Prince Lestat and his beloved Armand and Louis as tortured as ever.

But the real stars of Part 12 are a new immortal species from a star not far from Earth. These four benevolent beings appear human and can blend in with the mortal world. They’ve been sent by the Divine Parents with a grand purpose that is not revealed right away. The vampires soon learn of the beings’ presence and spend considerable chapters weighing whether they are a threat or an ally because of their shared immortality.

As in the other chronicles, a fearsome power struggle roils the vampire world. Blood drinkers from the world over converge on a grand château in Geneva, where Lestat and the elders have called a momentous meeting to discuss how to deal with the inhuman interlopers. Taking a grave risk, the newcomers reveal their mission to the vampires, who then must deal with a threat that could very well end their existence.

Even when she’s describing blood rituals and gory details, Rice writes with a calm and lyrical quality, as if she’s reciting a dark fairy tale. This volume delves into philosophical and spiritual quandaries as the creatures struggle for context and understanding. Throw in the new layers of Atlantis folklore and the mysterious new immortals and you’ve got one of Rice’s most imaginative tales yet.

If you’re thinking this series is getting a little long in the tooth, Rice has hinted at a 13th chronicle. Hold onto your capes.

Ginny Greene is a copy editor at the Star Tribune.

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis
By: Anne Rice.
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 451 pages, $28.95.

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

By: Anne Rice.

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 451 pages, $28.95.