The Living Blood

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Living Blood is a sequel to My Soul to Keep (1997), which introduced Jessica Jacobs-Wolde, an African American woman whose husband David is a member of a colony of immortal Africans with miraculous healing blood. David reveals his secret heritage to Jessica, then fails in performing the forbidden ritual intended to immortalize both Jessica and their daughter Kira. Jessica’s blood is transformed, but Kira dies. David retreats to the hidden Ethiopian community to atone for his sacrilege.

In The Living Blood Jessica and her physician sister Alex conduct a clinic in Botswana that uses the healing power of Jessica’s blood to cure fatally-ill children. Unknown to David, Jessica has borne a daughter with her parents’ immortal blood who begins to reveal her dangerous powers. Fana, a tiny Cassandra, sees the truth through dreams, trances, and telepathy, but cannot control her gift. She can alter the weather, read minds, and even kill when those she loves are endangered. Jessica, alarmed by Fana’s emerging powers, takes the child to her father in the hidden colony to seek guidance.

A master of suspense with superb powers of description, Tananarive Due transcends cliche with her sympathetic insights into her characters and their family relationships. Subplots include an American father who begs for the blood to save his dying son, ruthless Americans who try to steal the blood for profit, and a killer hurricane.

The novel resonates with such contemporary themes as the horror of the African AIDS epidemic and the moral dilemma of the distribution of scarce medical resources. The ingenious denouement inspires hope for the triumph of love and the basic goodness of human beings in the cosmic struggle against evil.