Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

 

SupernaturalBride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly Bride of the Rat God
Barbara Hambly; Del Rey 1994
WorldCat

Los Angeles in the 1920’s is a combination of artificial Hollywood glamor, open spaces, rich and poor, Prohibition and speakeasies, parties, and small town Los Angeles. Norah Blackstone’s sister-in-law Christine (stage name Chrysanda Flamande) brings her from a low paid lady companion’s position in England to be her assistant.

Norah’s life has completely changed. After the death of her husband in the war and her family to the flu a few years later, Norah was left bereft. The only position she could get was with an older, stingy woman with a lecherous son. Now she lives with Christine, a Hollywood star at Colossus Studios. Norah takes care of Christine’s Pekingese dogs, stays with her on the sets, accompanies her to parties and lives with her.

Christine kept a fabulous necklace she was given from her last movie. Norah catches notice of an elderly Chinaman trying to talk to Christine. He claims the necklace is haunted by the Chinese Rat God who will try to kill the actress. Soon Norah and their cameraman friend Alex work with the elderly man to try to keep Christine alive until the end of the Chinese year and the Rat God’s power wanes.

While I don’t know what I was expecting from the title, I was certainly surprised to find myself immersed in early silent movie Hollywood. Barbara Hambly uses the rich history of the early movie industry and Los Angeles adds the mystique of the Chinese gods and demons. Bride of the Rat God takes ancient Chinese mythology and puts it against a modern backdrop to good effect.

Bride of the Rat God revolves around Norah, using her fresh, surprised eyes to see the Hollywood that is already jaded yet still in its infancy. There is alcohol, cocaine, and debauchery everywhere. There is also the hard work involved in making movies. It wasn’t unusual to work 12 hour days while filming. Hambly drops names from the industry. The one that surprised me the most was Gary Cooper. I didn’t realize he had started his career in the 20s in silent movies.

Supernatural hunters, elderly magicians, starlets, the Los Angeles region, and Hollywood. Constant movement highlighted by Norah’s wonder. Enjoy Bride of the Rat God.

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