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The Book of the Damned (Secret Books of Paradys #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  670 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In this first volume of The Secret Books of Paradys, Lee begins the search for a demonic creature seemingly impervious to sword, conjuring, or prayer. Readers won’t want to miss number two in the series, The Book of the Beast.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 1st 1997 by The Overlook Press (first published 1988)
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Althea Ann
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Books of Paradys are a set of four collections of novellas all set in a dark and hallucinatory version of a former Paris. In part they're an homage to various 19th-century authors, especially the French symbolists, but they showcase Tanith Lee's unique and strikingly original vision to perfection. Some of the best writing, by one of my favorite authors. They can be read in any order, but The Book of the Damned was first published... and as the title suggests, it gives us a coll
Paul  Perry
The first of Tanith Lee's "The Secret Books of Paradys" features three tales set in a shadow version of Paris across a span of several centuries; while no dates are referenced, the settings appear (by the furniture and references) to be post-revolution, early Renaissance and late 19th century respectively.

The prose is dense and rich (short of purple, but it did take me a few pages to adjust from the sparer writing I've grown used to), and the style in each section subtly different reflecting its
Pomme de Terre
Generally, I like my books to have a coherent plot and detailed characterisation, neither of which this one has, yet I rather liked it. It's one of those weird, twisty enigmas of a story where the lush writing and decadent atmosphere are more or less the point. The entire thing is like a collection of highly stylised images and set pieces strung together to form a sensuous, visceral experience of passionate obsession, ruthless revenge and otherworldly transcendence.

Ostensibly, this book contains
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Oh god.
I am not used to anything that even verges on horror. My poor nerves are shaken.

Stained With Crimson:
I found it confusing. And I'm still not sure what happened. I have some ideas, but they're all really weird. Though, the whole book is pretty weird, so that doesn't take away from their credibility.

Malice in Saffron:
SO GOOD. Halfway through I thought I might have to stop, because it was just that horrible. But I'm so glad I didn't. Woah.

Empires of Azure:
No. Just, no. Last night I had night
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goth fans of Kelly Link
This book is actually three novellas: that of a poet who may or may not tangle him or herself up with vampire(s), that of an abused peasant girl who runs away to Paradys and becomes nun by day, bullyboy by night, and a writer who investigates the strange deaths of two beauties in a single house. In all three tales, gender is fluid, sexualities are twisted, and inexplicable shadows loom.

I would rate the stories higher, but I found the writing almost impenetrable. I still don't know what the firs
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really don’t know why I keep reading this author’s books since they are uniformly bizarre, over-sexed in a silly Penthouse Letters sort of way and gratuitously violent. Nevertheless, the title of this hard cover, first edition collection of short stories caught my eye at my favorite used book store so I jumped back into her crazy world.

As per her habit, these stories all involve someone getting raped (at least once), someone challenging or changing their sexual identity, some sort of sci-fi/fa
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is my Judy Blume/Hunger Games/Twilight, whatever you want to call it. I read this as a young adult when everything is so dramatic, everything a tragedy of Othello proportions. The first story Stained With Crimson is my favorite story I have ever read in my life to this day. It's not for everyone but if you already like Tanith & are trying to decide which one to pick up next this is a good one. If you've never read her I'll try to describe it. A lot of it is erotic, with poetic writing, ...more
Alysa H.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Perhaps I went into this with too-high expectations, having recently quite enjoyed another book by Tanith Lee, but unfortunately, the style here didn't work for me at all. A friend of mine has described it as febrile, and I would agree, though not as to whether it is febrile in a good way. I could not get any sense of the world or the characters, lost as they were in the purple haze.

I can appreciate what Lee was trying to do here, but it isn't the right book for me.

** I received a Review Copy of
A.J. Culpepper
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark gothica handled deftly by a master wordsmith, the novellas in this book are unsettling to the psyche. Beautifully written, Tanith Lee's style is reminiscent of Poe and maybe even Lovecraft to a certain degree. This isn't out and out horror, but a portrayal of darkness that preys on the mind.
Kelli Johnson
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Tanith Lee book I read. Her writing is very dark, and there is no such thing as a happy ending. I found the book (as well as the second in the series "The Book of the beast") to be strangely erotic despite its macabre setting and tone.
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tanith_lee-own
This is copy 30 of 250 signed numbered hardcover copies published by Unwin & Hyman in the UK.
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark beauty, with lots of twistiness!
Andromeda M31
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had an urge for Tanith Lee. When I get that urge, I usually go for Biting the Sun, or one of the Tales of the Flat Earth series.

But it had been awhile since I visited the twisted streets of Paradys.

The Book of the Damned is the first in Tanith Lee's Secret Books of Paradys series, a set of four books telling strange gothic stories of the city of Paradys. Paradys is vaguely based on Paris, but you won't get much actual history here, except for broad strokes of various eras: Roman, Medieval, R
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first read book by Tanith Lee, and thus began my addiction to her prose that lasted for a minimum of 10 years. It woukd have lasted longer, however her books were unavailable to me after that.
Anyway, the book is divided into 3 unconventional stories all surrounded around a theme of a scarabeus. Even thinking of the beginning scene in which the reader is asked directly to imagine what a person looks like when chased by the devil still sends waves of thrill and rush along my spine. Tanith Lee's
Feb 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Warning: I skimmed at least half of this.

It's boring and impossible to follow. Mostly though, the whole thing just felt utterly pointless. I'm generally not super picky about books in this genre, but COME ON. And what genre is this, really? Are these even vampires? If they are, why never use the word? And if not, what's with all the biting?

I'm still not completely sure what Lee was even trying to do with this, but the writing tried waaaaay too hard for high-concept meta for the content, which i
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Its so wonderful to read anything Tanith Lee has written. I really enjoy the rich style she uses and the places and people she creates. Paradys is a version of Paris, medieval and romantic and the mix of stories covering religion, gender, magic and mystery are worth being involved with.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not get past the first chapter of this book.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really wanted to like this, but abandoned after about 1/3 read. Just never caught my attention.
Catherine Siemann
This is the book Dorian Grey would take to beach with him; it's febrile and gothic in an over-the-top way and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spooktober
3. 5

I enjoyed this collection of novellas. All three share a setting: the mysterious city of Paradis. Although the stories happen at different moments in the history of the city, you can see references to past characters and events as you read on.

I guess by now I can safely say I'm partial to Tanith Lee. I discovered her last year with another short novel, Sabella and I was very much blown away. Again, with "The Book of the Damned" her writing was beautiful and enigmatic. Her settings and descr
Dharia Scarab
Since I don't normally write reviews unless I have something specific to say, here's the break down of how I rate my books...

1 star... This book was bad, so bad I may have given up and skipped to the end. I will avoid this author like the plague in the future.

2 stars... This book was not very good, and I won't be reading any more from the author.

3 stars... This book was ok, but I won't go out of my way to read more, But if I find another book by the author for under a dollar I'd pick it up.

4 sta
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anne rice fans, gothic horror fans
I wish I would have read Tanith Lee when I was in high school. I would have liked this more then. All of the gender-bending was interesting, though might be out of date now. I liked the first story ("Stained With Crimson"), even if some things did not make sense. (view spoiler) The second story ("Malice in Saffron") was been good, but there was a lot of rape. So beware if you are triggered ...more
David Brasher
Dec 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dreadful books. Don't read them.

The books are very hard to understand or enjoy. The stories are difficult to follow because the vampire lore is so twisted and non-standard, the characters' motivations are hard to understand, because they are not very nice or normal people, and some of the characters change gender, age, and life state. This makes it hard to track them. (And with these changes, I am not talking about flashbacks. I believe that time is proceeding forward in a linear fashion as one
The atmosphere is amazing without being distracting. The philosophical underpinnings are disjointed—that is, there is a revelry in Sin, as it were, but no real redemption, leaving the book feel half-finished. Look at the title, I suppose...

But Lee's work is some of the best sexual writing—or should I say psychosexual? Sex is integral to the work in a way that highlights just how extraneous it is to other books. It's in the psychology of the characters as more than lust but as identity, good or i
Excellent style matched to stories of varying strength. The first is richly Gothic and evocative but at the cost of clarity--it's very difficult to make much sense of the last third of the story. The second adopts a more straight-forward approach, and the grim tale it tells is stronger as a result. The last is a weaker by comparison in both respects.

In the end, though, the book is greater than the sum of its parts.
Jamie Grefe
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Three novellas (or long, long short stories) that focus on people who end up damned. Sounds boring, right? Well, it's not. Well, it can be when Lee stretches a story on and on, perhaps past that point where you suppose it should end, but she makes up for it, at least to me, with her masterful command of English and the strength of her PROSE. What I mean is that sometimes her sentences and images flow like the River Styx, smooth as a demon's behind. Really gorgeous stuff.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
It did take me quite a lot of time to read this book. It's really well written, with wonderful phrases and reflections, and good choice of words and difficult words.
Sometimes I didn't feel the need to read more than a couple of phrases before leaving it again. It was difficult to really enter the story, because the author pay so much attention in words and phrases that you couldn't go into the story.

Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novellas, monsters
Very strange stories. Definitely not the first Tanith Lee you should read. It's her style, of course, but personified and boiled down to make beautiful words but sometimes completely incomprehensible visions. I think I will take a break before beginning the next book.

The middle story, Malice in Saffron, was pretty horrifying.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to enjoy this however did not find it chilling nor compelling - I finished this book out of a sense that I should at least see it through. I would recommend that anyone with PTSD or with sensitivities to certain topics carefully check the contents of each tale. These tales are bleak and written beautifully, however not as memorable as other works by Tanith Lee, in my opinion.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the tradition of the Decadent writers, dense and packed with rich descriptive phrases, gender morphing, vivid and lurid descriptions of colors, gems, natural details and ornamentation. The first story was the strongest; the second was fairly compelling, but the third I had trouble focusing on and took forever to finish. Sometimes dense, decadent prose can be hard to digest.
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Tanith Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She also wrote four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a wai
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Other Books in the Series

Secret Books of Paradys (4 books)
  • The Book of the Beast (Secret Books of Paradys, #2)
  • The Book of the Dead (Secret Books of Paradys, #3)
  • The Book of the Mad (Secret Books of Paradys, #4)

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“I held out my book. It was precious to me, as were all the things I'd written; even where I despised their inadequacy there was not one I would disown. Each tore its way from my entrails. Each had shortened my life, killed me with its own special little death.” 16 likes
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