Les Daniels,
Yellow Fog
(Donald M. Grant, 1986;
Tor, 1988)

It begins with a train wreck near London in 1835. A pale, quiet child is saved from the wreckage by a dark, winged figure of a man -- an angel? -- who moments before was feeding on the the dead and dying.

Then it's 12 years later and the girl, Felicia Lamb, has grown into a beautiful, if still pale and quiet, woman. She is alone in the world, except for her doting, dotty Aunt Penelope and her fiance, Reginald Callendar. But she has acquired a passion for seeking answers in the occult, and she finds a brooding spiritualist, Sebastian Newcastle, to help her.

Yellow Fog is a fascinating volume in the large storehouse of vampiric literature on the market. Les Daniels maintains an appropriately Victorian atmosphere throughout, giving his characters the personalities and mannerisms we would expect.

He also gives us many questions to ponder as we read. Is Newcastle a villain or a dark hero, and what secrets does he conceal? And what about Callendar? He is Daniels' protagonist for much of the book, and yet his spoiled, superior ways make him too unlikeable for a hero -- and we must wonder if even the circumstances surrounding him are enough to force a change. For a time it seems like Samuel Sayer, a down-on-his-luck detective, may be the hero of this book, but he, too, proves unsuitable.

That's as much as I can say about the plot without giving too much away. Suffice it to say, Daniels has penned an engrossing tale, filled with darkness and suspense. This book might not be to your liking if your tastes run to lots of action and blood-spattering violence -- this one is more passive, concerned more with atmosphere than action. Even so, it was easy to be drawn in enough that I read the book in one sitting, too curious about the characters and their endings to put it down.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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