Kudos to Golden Gryphon Press for reissuing Lucius Shepard's The Golden, a largely underappreciated 1993 vampiric masterpiece (and winner of the 1994 Locus Award for Best Horror Novel) that mixes gothic fantasy and police procedural mystery with intensely erotic and darkly disturbing romance.
In the late 19th century, newbie vampire Michel Beheim -- former chief of detectives for the Paris police -- arrives at Castle Banat with his lord, Roland Agenor, to witness a Decanting with the entire extended European vampiric Family. The rare ritual involves sampling the blood of the Golden, the mortal result of a centuries-long breeding program to produce the "rarest of essences, a vintage of unsurpassing flavor and bouquet." But when the Golden is viciously murdered before the Decanting, the godlike patriarchal head of the vampire clans chooses Beheim to direct the investigation. The meager clues, however, lead the ex-detective headlong into unfathomably deep Family intrigues, and the farther Beheim travels into the hellish castle (an immeasurable construct of "mutant geometry"), the closer he comes to understanding the sacred Mysteries of the undead -- and eternal damnation.
Aficionados of novels that delve into the vampire mythos should seriously contemplate adding this limited-run edition to their bloodsucking library. Shepard's The Golden is one of those rare literary works that redefine the boundaries of a well-trodden motif and simultaneously breathe new life into it. A dark, poetic phantasmagoria of nightmarish images, brutal violence, and unholy sensuality, it's simply not to be missed. Paul Goat Allen