Review of A BED OF EARTH by Tanith Lee (see her website)
Overlook Press, July 2002
In a version of renassaince Venice not too far different from that in our own history, doomed love works its magic. Two families have feuded for centuries over a stretch of land in a graveyard. Generations later, the feud continues, working its destructive force on the children of the noble families. Meralda, a dela Scorpio, falls for a handsome painter but is betrayed by her servant and by the heir to the Barbarons. Beatrixa, daughter of the Barbaron, falls for a ghost spirit who claims to be a dela Scorpio. And Bartolome, the gravedigger, finds his true love too late.
Author Tanith Lee creates a fascinating world where magic treads just lightly enough to make history into something colorful and wonderful. Her richly drawn characters, especially Silvio and Beatrixa, with their doomed love, cannot help create reader sympathy and fascination. Lee's descriptions of her mythical Venice (Venus) ring true both for the Venice of our own history and for that of myth.
Readers looking for action and adventure will not find much of that here. Instead, A BED OF EARTH is a strange and doomed romance, a poem of people and souls, and a bit of philosophy.
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