Lost Souls - Poppy Z Brite
This book is Anne Rice on speed. Whereas her vampires hinted at their homoeroticism, Poppy Z Brite's scream it from the rooftops. They are masters of their universe and they strut their way into the book, and onto the streets of New Orleans, in an unforgettable explosion of sex and mayhem. The author has some interesting takes on vampires: they are a lost, demon tribe; they can mate with humans, but that mating has a horrific impact on the human mothers.
The product of one of these human/vampire relationships, a teenager called Nothing, is finally claimed by his vampire father and goes on a trip into his own heart of darkness.
Wrapped up with the tale of the vampires, are two humans, Ghost and Steve, who are musicians in a band called "Lost Souls?" They are lost, and this book is the story of their journey to find themselves, and each other.
Some of the characters in this book, and the setting of the town of Missing Mile, are picked up again in her second book, Drawing Blood.
It's an amazing read.
A imaginative story, rich in descriptive detail and peopled with delightfully seductive characters. It blends elements of gothic horror and gay romance to produce an unputdownable book about the search for identity, personal and sexual, that will leave you literally gasping. Brite has created a universe that's beautifully realised; a place you want to visit, to be part of, and characters you instantly fall in love with and long to meet, even if you know you'd most likely run a mile if you did.
She has a novel take on the traditional vampire mythology that I found refreshing and real. Far removed from Dracula and his ilk, Brite's vampires are deliciously louche and very human. Don't expect graphic sex because although the relationships featured in the book are mostly gay and male, the physical aspects are somewhat underplayed. Having said that, however, you do get a totally engrossing love story between two lost souls, Ghost and Steve, and an intriguing look at complex vampire relationships.
If the book has flaws, it's probably the rushed ending and the nagging suspicion I got that really there's too much in it for just one book, but Brite was then a first time writer so she can probably be forgiven for that. This is a complex book with the interweaving stories of a bunch of disparate characters: musicians, vampires, oddities, and misfits. Brite's world is a dark and decadent place and there's much in it to shock and repel the reader, so don't expect a cosy read. It may be a bumpy ride, but I, for one, am very glad I took the plunge, and I highly recommend you give it a go.
Publisher: RoC. ISBN: 0140173927
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