They are cool to the touch and alluringly beautiful in their ageless youth, and their fathomless eyes are the eyes which transfix. The secrets they guard are rendered in the iron doors and gothic traceries of Notre Dame. Their arts and science are the light of civilization. Their consciousness, so old, so vastly superior, stands vigil over human progress. They were the Illuminati; they are the vampire. The players in this story are: Dr. John Gladstone, a fashionable London virologist on the verge of altering history; his elder daughter Ursula, enticed by the lure of immortality; his younger daughter Camille, bereft of reason, bestowed with genius; and the Lady Hespeth, whose obession is a mask of the unimaginable. (From the book jacket.)
I’ve heard whispers and rumors about Michael Talbot’s The Delicate Dependency for years; it’s been the number one book on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list for as long as I’ve been a member. From time to time, I would search for it in the library’s system, and in used bookstores, and online–but if I ever found a copy for resale, it was wildly expensive. I left our meeting to fate, and fate took the form of my good friend Lee. When she said she owned a copy–a yellowed library discard that fell into her hands–I knew my turn to dance with this mysterious little novel had come.
The book had other ideas; rather than a stately waltz, this book led me on a merry chase–across London, through Paris, and on to the Italian countryside. All these years seeking the book, waiting for it, imagining what it would be like to read, I had formed an idea that it was something intimate and decadent, opium-soaked and opulent. Something psychological and sexy–and there are hints of this, but it’s much more an adventure and a mystery. It’s kidnappings and pursuits, masquerades and betrayals, captures and escapes, and a final confrontation that is surprising. Like, really astonishing. I may have shouted aloud at the final revelations. The vampires in this book maintain the attraction/repulsion dynamic that is at the core of the myth, but in a very different way from the usual sex and violence dichotomy. These vampires are appealing and confounding in their own special way.
And… I’ve already said too much. The best thing about reading The Delicate Dependency, after years of it dangling alluringly out of reach, was I didn’t really know a darned thing about it, so it took me completely unawares. I would like to leave you in the same state, so you can enjoy your own merry chase with the story in perfect innocence, when your turn comes.
And when you’ve read it, come back here, because we’ll have SO MUCH to talk about!