Harriet Brandt is the daughter of a mad scientist and a mixed-race voodoo priestess. Brought up on her parents' Jamaican plantation, she is forced to flee to Europe after the slaves revolt. Although everyone is initially attracted to Harriet, people who get close to her seem to sicken and die. Marryat's "psychic vampire" represents both the racial "other" and the New Woman of the period, both of whom were perceived as a threat to fin-de-siecle society. This curious novel engages with key debates, such as race, women's rights, heredity, syphilophobia and the occult.