The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire Life

January 31, 2018 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

dependencyThe Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire Life by Michael Talbot


I tend to think of how I will rate a book while I read it. In some cases, it’s clear that I’ll rate something a particular number (either I love or hate it and know exactly why), but some novels elude me until I finish them. The Delicate Dependency is one of those novels.

The Delicate Dependency has a strong pedigree, as it’s considered to be one of the best vampire novels ever written. That may be true, but I think it depends a lot on what readers expect from a vampire novel. Do you want charismatic, misunderstood vampires a la Anne Rice, or do you prefer the vampires of menace and mayhem as featured in The Lost Boys? Reading one kind of story while expecting the other can lead to disappointment.

I’m not sure what I expected from The Delicate Dependency, but I certainly got something unexpected. The story centers around Dr. John Gladstone, a man who, as a child, had a vision of an angel in his backyard. When he encounters that same angel twenty years later, it begins a series of cascading events that puts him onto a journey into the life of the vampire.

Set in the late 19th- and early 20th-century, the novel takes on the style of a novel written during that time, which means that it tends to meander. Talbot puts a lot of detail into his story, with a large chunk of the beginning of the story devoted to Gladstone marrying a woman beneath his social status, and how it affects his own standing in society. It then meanders into a lengthy section about his research as a doctor, including a rivalry with another physician and researcher, and it’s a little befuddling. The subtitle of the book tells us we’re reading a vampire novel, but it takes a long time — maybe a third of the book — to get there.

The thing is, all of these details at the beginning of the story are important. It’s not that Talbot started the book with a bunch of random thoughts in his head, and started writing until they gelled into a coherent plot; instead, he’s crafting a story that relies on the long game, and, to cut right to it, pays off. The thing is, the story meanders a lot, taking lengthy asides into seemingly unimportant areas that threaten to derail the reader. It was hard to stay focused on the book, since these asides take up the bulk of the story. The rest of the story is an intriguing examination of a simple question: If you lived forever, to what would you devote your life?

The Delicate Dependency is a book that requires dedication. I can see readers giving up on this book (if I didn’t trust Valancourt Books as much as I do, I might have done it myself), but for those who persevere, there’s a satisfying conclusion to be found. I’d be hard pressed to recommend it without hesitation, but for folks who are looking for an unexpected vampire story, The Delicate Dependency is a hidden gem.

Started: November 2, 2017
Finished: November 12, 2017

1 Comment

  1. The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire Life — Veni Vidi Verkisto – horrorwriter said,

    […] via The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire Life — Veni Vidi Verkisto […]

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