In 1962, vampire-detective Sebastien, having adopted the name ‘Jack Prior,’ returns from Europe to New Amsterdam, arriving not by airship but airplane. As he attempts to re-establish himself in the new world, he makes the acquaintance of a clique of sorcerers who invite him to join them in an ambitious endeavor. But old — indeed, ancient — habits die hard, and Sebastien must chart the course of his eternal voyage while buffeted by public protests against vampires and the sudden return of someone powerful from his past.
Ad Eternum (2012) is the fourth book by Elizabeth Bear featuring Sebastien. One should first read New Amsterdam, The White City, and Seven for a Secret, after which this newest chapter is a treat. At the risk of repeating myself, the tale and Ms. Bear’s writing are elegant and subtle. My only complaint, for lack of a better word, is that this chapter is so brief, and once again, I found myself wanting more.
There is a definite artistic effect, though, created by the waiting period between books: the reader has the sense of years passing in the world of the story and returns to it eagerly wondering what changes have transpired — and who has died. I do hope we’ll see Sebastien and his acquaintances again, if only to discover his reaction to modern technology. Certainly, a Twitter account seems unlikely.