Book Reviews

{Review} The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot

by Michael Talbot
Published by Valancourt Books on 06-30-2014
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Pages: 390
Format: eBook
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They are cool to the touch and alluringly beautiful in their ageless youth. Their laughter seduces, their brilliance beguiles. They guard the secrets of science and history, and the answers to the mysteries of life and death lie within their vastly superior knowledge. In centuries past, they were known as the Illuminati. They are the vampire.

Dr. John Gladstone, a scientist in Victorian London, is thrust into their world after his carriage runs over a young man of angelic beauty named Niccolo. When Niccolo kidnaps Gladstone's child and vanishes, the doctor must go in pursuit, with the help of his daughter, Ursula, who is enticed by the lure of eternal life, and Lady Hespeth, whose demure exterior hides a dangerous obsession. Why are the vampires taking children, and what is the connection to Gladstone's experiments with a deadly virus? And how can he possibly prevail against a race of immortal beings with power and intelligence infinitely beyond his own?

Michael Talbot's The Delicate Dependency (1982) is often cited as one of the best vampire novels ever written. This highly anticipated new edition, the first since the book's original publication, includes a new foreword by Jillian Venters.

4.5 stars! This book was fantastic!

Set in the Victorian era, this story quietly kicks the crap out of the vampire novels of today. Beautifully written with an intriguing plot and unique characters, I can’t say enough about how enjoyable this book was.

Doctor Gladstone, a scientist in London during the Victorian era, accidentally ran over a man who walked in front of his carriage. Due to this man’s, (Niccolo’s), resemblance to someone Doctor Gladstone once saw in a painting,(and due to his vague suspicions as to Niccolo’s true nature), this stranger is invited into Gladstone’s home. Before you know it, one of Dr. Gladstone’s daughters, Camille, has been kidnapped and the adventure begins.

This is a vampire story, but these are not vampires you’ve read about before. Unlike Rice’s or King’s, these vamps have been around for millennia. What are their true motives, why have they kidnapped Camille, and what do they plan to do with her? You will have to read this to find out.

With pacing that at times is slow and at other times at breakneck speeds, this story captures the reader and drags them along. Even the slow paced periods were interesting, because the reader is constantly learning new facts, but is unsure as to where they fit into the big picture. Like a jigsaw puzzle with unusually shaped pieces. With fun train and carriage chases, crazy plot twists and flat out “Oh My God” moments, this novel was a real treat.

This is a book of quiet horror. If you are looking for lots of blood and gore, this tome is not for you. However, if you’re looking for a literary piece with depth and meaning…look no further.(I would equate this work to the excellent literary horror of the 80’s-such as Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story”, for example.) Well written, (with a vocabulary that forced me to use my Kindle dictionary quite a bit), this book delivers not only a quiet horror story, but also fodder for the mind. I found the concepts that were introduced fascinating and fun to think about. To what would you devote your life if you were immortal?

Lastly, I would avoid reading the introduction until you’re finished with the book. I read it after I was finished and was very glad that I did so, because almost the entire plot is laid out there and I think it would have ruined my enjoyment of this tale.

Because I did find the pacing just a tad slow at a couple of points, I deducted half of one star. That is the only negative thing I have to say about this novel. Other than that, it comes with my highest recommendation to fans of dark fiction, gothic horror stories and quiet horror.

*I was provided a free copy of this book from Valancourt Books to honestly review and that is what I have done.*

About Michael Talbot

Michael Talbot was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1953. As a young man, he moved to New York City, where he pursued a career as a freelance writer, publishing articles in Omni, The Village Voice, and others, often exploring the confluence between science and the spiritual.

Talbot published his first novel, The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire Life as an Avon paperback original in 1982; though never reprinted, it is regarded a classic of the genre, frequently appearing on lists of the best vampire novels ever written, and secondhand copies have long been expensive and hard to find. His other horror titles, both cult classics, are The Bog (1986) and Night Things (1988).

But despite the popularity of his fiction among horror fans, it was for his nonfiction that Talbot was best known, much of it focusing on new age concepts, mysticism, and the paranormal. Arguably his most famous and most significant is The Holographic Universe (1991), which examines the increasingly accepted theory that the entire universe is a hologram; the book remains in print and highly discussed today.

Michael Talbot died of leukemia in 1992 at age 38.

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