The vampire in this 1907 novel is of the psychic variety, a successful and remarkably arrogant author named Reginald Clarke, who steals the best thoughts from the most talented souls around him by a kind of mind invasion technique. He makes women blush and men swoon, especially young Ernest Fielding, his current victim. Poor Ernest finds that this man whom he worships has somehow extracted from his very soul a masterpiece of literature, which he passes as his own. While the narrator asserts that "all genuine art is autobiography", this doesn't stop this psychic leech from exploiting the talents of those around him, leaving them empty, wasted shells. Ernest joins with his new lover, Ethel Brandenbourg, in a brave attempt to rescue what is rightly his from Clarke, but he will have to contend with Clarke's almost superhuman force of personality and well-developed sense of contempt for lesser mortals. Despite the turn of the century philosophizing on the nature of creativity, and a genuinely chilling denoument, I'd have to rank this entertaining novel as only a touch above middling.
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