Delicate Condition By Danielle Valentine-Summary
Goodreads summary (review below) of Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine (the first book to spawn a season of American Horror Story/AHS Season 12):
A gripping thriller that follows a woman convinced a sinister figure is going to great lengths to make sure her pregnancy never happens—while the men in her life refuse to believe a word she says.
Anna Alcott is desperate to be pregnant. But as she tries to balance her increasingly public life with a grueling IVF journey, she starts to suspect that someone is going to great lengths to make sure her pregnancy never happens. Crucial medicines are lost. Appointments get swapped without her knowledge. And even when she finally manages to get pregnant, not even her husband is willing to believe that someone’s playing a twisted game with her.
When the increasingly cryptic threats drive her out of her Brooklyn brownstone and into hiding in the cold, gray ghost town that is the Hamptons in the depths of winter, Anna is almost at the end of her rope.
Then her doctor tells her she’s had a miscarriage—except Anna’s convinced she’s still pregnant, despite everything the grave-faced men around her claim. Could it be that her mind is playing tricks on her? Or is something more sinister at play? As her symptoms become ever more horrifying and the sense of danger ever more present, Anna can’t help but wonder what exactly she’s carrying inside of her…and why no one will listen when she says something is horribly, painfully wrong.
Delicate Condition By Danielle Valentine And American Horror Story
Let me be clear. I hadn’t heard of Delicate Condition until I saw the below post on Hillary Huber’s Instagram about it being the basis for the new season of American Horror Story. Then, I was all over it, like a kid in a candy store, because, well, I am a HUGE fan of American Horror Story (See my American Horror Story Tag) And I was skeptical.
- You know how they say that when a person tells you who they are, listen to them? Well, when a book tells you what it is (in this case, the first to kick off a season of American Horror Story), LISTEN TO IT. There’s a there, there. Oh boy, is there a there, there.
- I listened to Danielle Valentine’s latest in one day. If I’m being honest? In hours. HOURS.
- More on Hillary Huber is below.
Delicate Condition By Danielle Valentine-Review
To say I was skeptical when I started Delicate Condition would be an understatement. I’m protective of the American Horror Story franchise. And this is the first time a book has been the basis for a season (Delicate). I was ready to be salty. For Danielle Valentine to not be worthy.
I was so happy to be so wrong. Danielle Valentine turned the pain and trauma of miscarrying into a brilliant book. I’ve never even attempted to have a baby, yet I felt every moment of that miscarriage. It was visceral writing. I would apologize for the longest quote I’ve ever pulled from a book, but this is some of the best writing I’ve experienced.
The pain wasn’t like it was before. There was a pressure now. A very significant pressure in my pelvis, like something inside of me was trying to get out. I felt like I had to take a shit. Didn’t women do that sometimes during childbirth? Could it happen during a miscarriage, too… ‘No. No I need to go to the bathroom. I need to go now…’ The inside of my thighs were damp but I didn’t know if it was sweat or blood, or urine. And that pressure was still there in my pelvis, twisting through me. Something was about to happen and I wanted to be in the bathroom before it did… Just before I left the room, I noticed that the bed was bright red where I’d been sitting. There was so much blood. My baby will never cry, I thought. My baby is dead or else it is dying right now, inside of me. It’s dying and I can’t do anything. I can’t protect it… I frantically kicked my underwear off and sat. There was blood everywhere. On my ankles, and my hands, and the floor… I started to cry. I didn’t think I was going to shit anymore. This pressure was something else, something worse. I was scared. I was alone. And this was happening. It was happening here, in this filty bathroom and there was nothing I could do to stop it… I fresh shock of pain twisted through me… There was a release and then I felt something warm and still slide out from between my legs… that wasn’t blood. It had a shape to it, a form. I could feel it… I knew it was my baby. My baby wasn’t inside of me anymore. I was no longer pregnant.”
Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and Dreamscape Media for the audio copy of Delicate Condition, which was released on August 1st, 2023.
And that is just one part of Delicate Condition, which is fearless. It is fearless in demonstrating the disconnect between OBGYNs and women. And it is relentless in discussing the dangers of being a pregnant woman of color and, at one point, mentioning that even Serena Williams had almost died during childbirth.
Back then white women pretened black women didn’t experience pain, at least not like white women did. So, they wouldn’t have been given anything, even if they screamed and cried. Their surgeries took hours. They would’ve felt every second.
If you couldn’t tell from the quote about miscarriage, Delicate Condition is not for the faint of heart. Through women’s issues, it is suspenseful, bending into a horror book. And it never loses that edge. Danielle Valentine does lull you into a bit of a safety zone, the first 10% or so of the book. She makes it more about relationships and the physical and mental torture of IVF. However, it doesn’t last long. And then Delicate Condition plummets into you. I could feel my mouth open, my body tense, and my heartbeat rising while listening. I had a literal, physical reaction. And it wasn’t always a pleasant feeling. It isn’t supposed to be. That is how well Danielle Valentine wrote Delicate Condition.
Anna is an incredible main character. You will root for her every step of the way. Anna’s fear, emotional trauma, and fierce love will become yours. Some might consider her an unreliable narrator, but I can’t entirely agree. For most of Delicate Condition, Anna is well aware of what is happening. When she doesn’t know? She truly doesn’t know. It isn’t that she just misremembers. Things are happening that she can’t explain. That no one could explain.
I don’t want to go into much more detail about what Anna experiences or how it turns out but know you are in for a wicked ride.
Delicate Condition- Final Thoughts And Audiobook
Dreamscape Media perfectly lays out Delicate Condition. It labels where Anna is by weeks throughout her journey. It also marks the flashbacks to other women’s birthing experiences throughout time. It would have been difficult to follow as an audiobook without these labels.
It is well known that I have a severe crush on Hillary Huber’s (interview-linked) talent. She is a queen. Moreover, this narration is different. Most of what I’ve heard of Hillary Huber’s work is snarky, dark-humored thrillers. This is not that. And still, Huber nails it. Huber manages to do every word, every emotion, and twist perfectly. She does Danielle Valentine’s work justice. And then some.
There is no doubt that Delicate Condition will make an incredible twelfth season of American Horror Story. I highly recommend reading it before the show releases (date unknown when this post published). Most AHS seasons have started around October, but nothing is yet confirmed.