Dionysos as a Vampire: Tanith Lee’s The Blood of Roses by Craig Gidney

The Blood of Roses Volumes 1 & 2

The Blood of Roses, Tanith Lee’s obscure masterpiece, is back in print in two gorgeous editions put out by Immanion Press. Originally only published in Great Britain, it had a small print run before vanishing into the thin air of out-of-print-books. Lovers of Lee’s Gothic mode will find a feast of decadent imagery, grotesque character studies and fever dream-logic plots. It is filled with scenes of terrifying beauty and bone-chilling horror. The prose is mesmerizing; the word-paintings remind one of Gaudi’s architecture or wild paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

It’s an epic (700+pages) fantasy novel (influenced more by Peake’s Gormenghast series than Tolkien) about vampirism, religious persecution and ultimately, divinity.

The Greek god of the vine was one of Tanith Lee’s ongoing obsessions. She wrote:

Often misunderstood, Dionysos is far more than a wine deity. He is the Breaker of chains, who rescues not only the flesh but the heart and spirit from too much of worldly regulations and duties. He is a god of joy and freedom. Any uncultivated tangled and primal woodland is very much his domain.

The Blood of Roses is Lee’s ode to Dionysos, who resides in the character of Magister Anjelen, and it takes place in a medieval alternate world dominated by vast primeval forests. The old religion is one of nature worship, and joyous abandon, built around a massive World Tree. Another conquering religion, a particularly brutal form of Christianity, comes, and destroys this sacred treeand places a tortured martyr on the tree and makes the pagan worship forbidden. However, just as in our own world, pagan worship lives, appropriated by major religion. In this world, the pagan rites live in the shadow of Christerium, feeding upon symbols and myths of that dominant religion. It is a novel very much concerned with religion, in all its manifestations, from the oppressive to the ecstatic.

Dionysian characters abound in Lee’s oeuvre, perhaps most notably in the trickster-like Azhrarn, Lord of Night and Wickedness in her Flat Earth sequence. Anjelen is more serious than that immortal demon lord, though. He uses the tools of Christianity to resurrect the old religion.

His church and monastery offer sanctuary to the men and women who suffer under the yoke of the relentless patriarchal and cruel feudal world Lee has crafted. He is but one character in the book, which goes back and forth through time. A mosaic of lives are born and reborn in the pages—the maligned deformed son of a lord, Mechail; the ethereal but distant Anillia—all are drawn to the mysterious Anjelen and transformed by him.

The Blood of Roses is more than a vampire novel. Lee uses the theme of vampirism and blood-rites to explore mythology, eschatology and divinity. It might best be described as a visionary vampire fantasy, as Vampirism and its attendant rituals are synonymous with transcendent spiritual ecstasy. It is also some of the darkest fiction Lee has ever written. If an earlier vampire novel Vivia was “grim dark,” this one is positively nihilistic. Mechail and Annillia’s stories are filled with abuse, some of it sexual in nature. This darkness is balanced out by the moments of weird, transcendent beauty. Vampires are associated with moths, angels and gossamer-nymph-like ghosts.

The Blood of Roses was written at the height of Tanith Lee’s authorial powers. I contend that if it had been given the proper push, it would have been an award winner. Thanks to ImmanionPress and Storm Constantine, this novel will find a new and wider audience.

Craig Gidney, July 2020

Craig Laurance Gidney
is the author of the Lambda Literary Award nominated books Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories, Skin Deep Magic, and A Spectral Hue, numerous short stories and the award-winning young adult novel Bereft. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he daily resists against the current regime.

Into the Void

Dave Smith talks about his new book Voidworking, available through Megalithica Books.

It has been a very busy but rewarding time for me. Over the last few months, I have seen the release of my second book, Voidworking: Practical Sorcery from Primordial Nothingness. I have also completed the expansion and revision of my first book, Quantum Sorcery: The Science of Chaos Magic, for a third edition to be released soon.

I was recently asked what first gave me the idea to write Voidworking. For the past 15 years, I have used a line in my personal banishing ritual:

“By my Will, I cleave the dimensions. I claim this space from the Void.”

Nearly three years ago, I began to ponder exactly what it means to claim a space, or anything else for that matter, from the Void. I knew what the Void was in a general sense, that it was analogous to both the Abyss and to chaos (χάος), roughly meaning that which yawns. It is the primordial state of beingwhich is referenced in the creation myths of many cultures over the millennia. I wondered what other aspects of this potent concept I might be able to draw upon for my magical practice. 

I practice a form of Materialist sorcery. I do not denigrate the Spiritualist paradigms, nor deny their potency, and in fact I worked within them for almost two decades. Over the past 15 years however, my work is focused on the Mind/Material interface as the mechanism by which I project my Will into the world. Envisioning the Void as a precursor state, transcending space/time, from which the Universe organized, is a particularly useful conceit within my paradigm.

Voidworking tools on my altar

As with any experimental system, not every idea ultimately bore fruit, but I have continued to use the ones that did, and many of them are presented in Voidworking. It is a very chaotic time in the world right now, and I have found that some of the techniques are well-suited to address the anxiety that we are all metaphysically soaking in. One of the reasons that initially drives many to take up the practice of magic is the desire to have a greater degree of control over one’s circumstances. This is an ideal time to hone skills and bolster defenses. I wish you the best of success and health as you go forth.

The author when compelled to venture out.

Autumn/Winter Releases From Immanion Press

Autumn can be smelled in the air now, and the autumn equinox is only three weeks away. Time to announce our end of year publications.


We’ll be releasing a new fiction title in September – ‘The Company of Birds’ by Nerine Dorman. Reflecting the author’s fascination with birds, and owls in particular, this is a literary fantasy, with intriguing characters and a touch of grimdark in the plot. A beautifully rendered alternate world, where fire magic is outlawed, and political factions vie for power.

Cover Text:

“Sometimes a hero must burn all she holds dear.

Unrest brews in the city-state of Uitenbach, but its magi continue their work, even though the world outside the hallowed grounds of their academy seems to be tearing itself to pieces.

Newly divorced and still smarting from her philandering ex-husband’s rejection, Maga Liese ten Haven doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. When the mysterious Atroyan tribesman Malagai reveals to Liese that she is the heir to a forbidden magical legacy, she is thrust into a conspiracy that may foment a civil war. If she fails, her magic will consume her.

But what if the only way to right the wrongs her people have done to the Atroyan nation is to sacrifice everything?”

Book Details:
ISBN: 978-1-912815-03-6
Price: £12.99, $16.99, E15.99
368 pages


This month we’ll publish the next in our series of Tanith Lee rare story collections ‘A Wolf at the Door’.

Wolf at the Door Blog

Cover Text:

Tanith Lee, one of the world’s best writers of fantasy and horror, wrote hundreds of stories within her lifetime, spanning many genres. In this collection are thirteen tales, most of which only appeared in magazines or rare anthologies.

‘A wolf at the door’ implies hidden threat – until the door is open, we don’t really know what’s out there. It can also refer to misfortune, seen coming from a distance. And now the beast is upon you, scratching at the wood, its hot breath steaming on the step. Will you survive the encounter? Will the dawn save you – that good fortune you’ve longed for? The wolf might also be a metaphor for madness, another kind of predator that may creep towards a person unseen. Perhaps, once the door is opened, what you might have thought to be a threat turns out to be something else entirely. But of course, it can also be a werewolf…

Tanith enjoyed playing with genres and their tropes, and the stories in this collection range in mood and tone, from the light-hearted to the terrifying, the whimsical to the unsettling. A superb introduction to her work for the newcomer and a treasure trove for her enthusiasts.

With an introduction and illustrations by Storm Constantine and cover art by John Kaiine. Cover design by Danielle Lainton.

Contents: Huzdra, A Wolf at the Door, Venus Rising on Water, The Puma’s Daughter, The Return of Berenice, Sea Warg, Table Manners, The Werewolf, The Janfia Tree, Tiger I, Pinewood, Nightshade, Why Light?

Book Details:
ISBN: 978-1-912815-04-3
296 pages
Price: £11.99 $15.99 E13.99

Also in October, Cornelia Benavidez’s next title ‘Petition for a Tomorrow: A Journey for Victor’ will be published. This follows on from her works ‘Victor H. Anderson: An American Shaman’, which explored the teachings and history of the creator of the Feri tradition, and ‘Transpiration’, a book of Cornelia’s poems that also included stories of her childhood and her discovery of alternative spirituality in 1970s San Francisco.

Petition for a Tomorrow’ tells the tale of Cornelia’s quest, as a young woman in 1986, to discover the spirits of Hawaii, which her mentor Victor intimated were a vital part of her spiritual growth. She and the friend who accompanied her to the mystical Islands had many adventures as they travelled around the sacred sites – a few of which were quite hair-raising! But Cornelia’s purpose was always to seek out the ancient gods of the Islands and ask for their help in preserving our world. The journey was filled with lessons and symbols, ending in a transforming experience at the mouth of a volcano.

A fascinating read, and a snapshot of an era, ‘Petition for a Tomorrow’ captures the spirit of emerging paganism in the world. Cover art by Peter Hollinghurst. (Cover art to be revealed soon.)

Book Details:
ISBN: 978-1-912241-12-5
Price: £10.99, $13.99, E12.99
212 pages


Storm Constantine’s new novel will be released this month. ‘Breathe, my Shadow’ is a stand-alone Wraeththu mythos story set in the Almagabran town of Ferelithia. Wraeththu enthusiasts will know this place as a significant site in the history of Pellaz, who became Tigron of the Gelaming tribe. But that was decades ago. Now, it is the archetypal party destination, thronged with hedonistic tourists, vibrant with events and concerts. It seems nothing can touch its carefree atmosphere of celebration and indulgence. Even its local dehar, Kelosanya, is named for the madness of erotic desire. But Ferelithia wasn’t always a place of light and fun. It was built on blood sacrifice and the darkest of magics. Very few Ferelithians know exactly how their tribe wrested the town from the surviving humans in the area, and those who do know must keep the details secret. But the truth has a habit of rising from where it was buried.

The arrival in Ferelithia of a very strange har, who has a dark history of his own, sets events in motion. The Pale Ones begin to walk, and the mysterious Pard Witch begins to haunt the town and its inhabitants. His influence stretches far, touching the lives of four hara who were once in a Ferelithian band together. In far off Megalithica a rich and successful musician named Amorel is subjected to horrifying hallucinations. In Alba Sulh, the drummer Pharis finds his community threatened by a nebulous enemy that can only derive from his own past. Rue, Tigrina of Immanion, once a singer in the band, has unsettling encounters with a har who looks like somehar he knew a long time ago – and believed dead. Karn, the erstwhile guitarist, is now High Municiphar of Ferelithia – and he, of all of them, has the most secrets to control and contain. But until somehar can say for sure the threats derive from the past or from an unexpected current influence, they can’t protect themselves or their town. Whatever the consequences, a very dark history has to be faced.

The novel began life as a story in the ‘Para Spectral’ anthology, but Storm has taken it off in several different directions, with an additional cast of characters both old and new. She says:

‘When I wrote the (not so) short story, there was so much more I wanted to tell. I felt it simply finished at the end of a chapter rather than concluded the plot. This can often happen with my stories, and most often the urge to go further with them withers after a few weeks and I’m happy to leave them as they are. However, this one refused to lie down and do as it was told. Ferelithia fascinates me. It’s like the Ibiza of the Wraeththu world, but as with that island of hedonistic pleasure in our real world, Ferelithia has a mottled past, stretching back through history to the days of the ancient gods. (The captivating new documentary by Julien Temple about Ibiza’s history and culture was timely and inspirational, as I was able to watch it during the latter stages of writing the book.) ‘Breathe, my Shadow’ makes the characters face who and what they were. The past left them broken, and while some have recovered and made new lives for themselves others have not. So it isn’t simply a mystery, but a tale about atonement, recovery, forgiveness and acceptance. It is, however, still a ghost story.’

Cover art by Ruby. No cover yet, but here’s one of characters from the novel taken from the cover of Para Spectral.

Leupardra Web

We’ll also be releasing Bill Duvendack’s next book in December. ‘Psychic Protection’ follows on from his popular titles, ‘Vocal Magick’ and ‘Spirit Relations’.

Bill Duvendack new web

Cover text:

So, why another book on Psychic Protection? Hasn’t there been enough written on the subject? Yes, there has been a lot written about it over the years, but what sets Psychic Protection apart from the others is that it is practical and encompasses more than your usual protection techniques.

In addition to standard protection techniques such as specialized stones and herbs, you will find other more adaptable tools, and all of this information will be tempered with common sense. Beginning with the human body and the necessity of taking care of one’s self, Psychic Protection takes a comprehensive look at what you can do to protect yourself psychically speaking, and it is centered on sharing information that requires no particular tools. In addition to discussing the human body, a look at astral impressions, thoughtforms, and reading body language are included in this tome. The book itself is split into sections that correspond to the four classical elements of the Western Esoteric Tradition, and therefore time will be given to emotional and physical health as well as the more commonly known tools such as stones, oils, herbs, and certain rituals. For the novice or the experienced, this gives you what you need to protect yourself, even when you may not have your favorite tools on hand.

More details to follow for the December titles nearer to release dates.


Exciting News for Tanith Lee Fans

We have some exciting news we’d like to share. In December, we’ll be releasing a previously unpublished fiction work by Tanith Lee called ‘At the Court of the Crow’, which is something of a legend among core fans, because Tanith spoke about it, yet it never appeared in print.

John Kaiine has only recently asked if we’d like to publish this work, and because it needs nothing doing to it, save being scanned from a very clean manuscript and then copy edited, we thought a Yule release would be ideal for it. The truth is, we couldn’t wait to bring it out and didn’t want fans to have to wait too long for it either!

At the Court of the Crow’ was intended to be the start of a much longer novel, but Tanith only completed this first section, which stands alone perfectly well as a novella. This will probably be the last previously-unpublished longer work of Tanith’s her readers will ever see, so it’s very special. It’s beautifully written, and hauntingly strange, which makes the fact it was never completed even more poignant.

At the court of the crow web

John has provided some material from an interview Tanith did in 2011, which sheds light on this mysterious story.

Tanith Lee:

“[At the Court of the Crow] is an unfinished work which was offered here and there as an example of the finished novel I wanted to write. Responses were negative or strangely confused. No one bought the work. And so far I haven’t completed it. It is, this one, an (to me) interesting and weird project. A rural place, feeling somewhat 1900, but where stars crash on the ground by night. Something apocalyptic happened, it seems, some years before, and civilization ground to a halt. There is the House, and the Town, and the Plain between, where you must Never venture after dark for fear of the peculiar and lethal creatures that teem there. And then the Old Man turns up, gorgeous of voice, unholy and persuasive of character. To the lonely, obscure young woman (oh, her again!) trapped in the house, with her cruel and ridiculous relatives, does he represent a way out, or the way… to Hell? Or both.”

We hope all appetites are whetted for this rare, delicious work. Cover art by John Kaiine, design by Danielle Lainton. More details, such as precise release date and cover price, to follow soon.

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