Horror October: Poppy Z Brite Spotlight & Review #HorrorIcons #HorrorOctober

horroroctofficial2016

I’ve long held a fascination with Poppy Z Brite. As an emerging teen goth in late 90s, her (as she was known then) books were like the holy grail. They were extremely violent and gruesome, they were deviantly sexual and on the surface seemed to completely humanise and romanticise serial killers and cannibalism. Plus, they were riddled with hot gay men. Some of them innocent wayward boys, some of them diabolical killers. Poppy Brite was my hero.

All of that was the angsty, blood-thirsty teenager in me. I read them because I thought it was cool; because I knew that I shouldn’t. Because I was too young to read them. A small act of rebellion. 

 

But as I’ve grown up, I’ve returned to Brite (now known as Billy Martin after transitioning to a man), on numerous occasions – his books never made it to the charity shop – and I can now appreciate them on another level. They are not just made-to-shock  throwaway novels. They’re important novels that act almost as a social commentary of New Orleans, focusing on the issues of  feeling different, alienated; on diversity. Brite writes with such a morbid passion. She can describe gutting someone as poetically as falling in love.

If you’ve never read any of Brite’s books, I highly recommend starting with Lost Souls. It’s set in New Orleans, like most of his stories, and centres around three wannabe rock star, bisexual vampires, one of which impregnates a human girl and the child, known as Nothing grows up wondering why he feels so alienated, until eventually meeting up with his blood-thirsty father.

In the past, Brite has been attacked for lacking morals, and writing gratuitous gore and casual sex, and to an extent I guess that’s true, but there’s more to her stories than that, and I can’t think of another writer who creates such evocative atmospheres, and bitter-sweet nostalgia for youth and days gone by. 

 

For Horror October, I decided to read Self-Made Man, a book of short fiction by Brite that I’d never got round to buying. My friend Dora found it in a charity shop and lent it to me. I was dubious after not really loving Love in Vein, another story collection. Short stories just don’t seem to be my thing, even by authors that I love. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Self-Made Man. It begins with a very short story written from the perspective of a maggot in a slaughter-house which is basically a showcase for Brite’s ability to make disgusting, putrid things sensual.

Arise, is a story about Cobb, a reclusive ex-pop star who faked his own death, who hears that his old band-mate has died. He then gets a mysterious letter saying that he has left his secluded house to him. Did he know all along that Cobb was alive? And why would he leave his house to him? I really liked this story. It had twists and turns and lots of intrigue. 

The titular story, Self-Made Man was a hit too. It’s very much in the same breath of novel, Exquisite Corpse, based on cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s not for the faint-hearted. As was Vine of the Soul which reunites us with two characters from Drawing Blood. 

The rest of the stories I could take or leave, but my favourite part of this book was the author’s notes on each story. Fascinating, as ever.

horroctrating-4

The Frenchman by Lesley Young

frenchman
Title: The Frenchman
Author: Lesley Young
Series: Crime Royalty Romance #1
Edition: Digital Reader’s Copy, 276 Pages
Publication Details: January 2015 by L.A.Y. Books
Genre(s): Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.

Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands?

Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.

Review


To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much of the synopsis or cover of this book, but I was in the mood for a quick, light read so I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did!

The Frenchman is a page-turning romance (bordering on erotica), set in Toulon, France where innocent and naive Fleur Smithers is spending a year getting to know her police-officer birth-mum.

The relationship between the two is interesting. They are very different, but despite the past they get along and understand each other. Marie, Fleur’s mum, along with her friend Jess encourage her to enjoy everything France has to offer, including the men, and one night in a tiny restaurant, she does just that.

She meets Louis, an aloof, brute of a man who also happens to be a famous Rugby player. From here, Fleur not only finds herself in an intense, whirlwind of passion, but she’s also gotten herself into something deeper. Is Louis really who he says he is? Is her mother right to warn her against him and his family?

The Frenchman really surprised me. I was kind of expecting it to be sex, sex, sex, but I really enjoyed the story too, especially the crime element. It had a lot more strings to its bow than a lot of romance books I’ve read.

Louis is everything you could want in a leading man, too. Essentially, he’s a bad-boy with a heart, or so we hope as we read on. And he’s clearly pretty damn hot! I enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, and how Fleur stood up to him on occasion. And although they get together pretty quickly, this definitely wasn’t an instalove thing – there was more going on than that, which is always what keeps me interested in a story – it was a rollercoaster of a romance.

Overall, I was really impressed by The Frenchman. It’s not the kind of thing I read often but I’d definitely like to continue with the series. Watch out E.L James!

unicorn rating 4

An Alcoholic, a Teashop and an Angry Vampire Ex!

Kissing with Fangs by Ashlyn Chase

fangs Claudia Fletcher has her MBA and a stellar resume, so when the bar she manages burns down, she could easily move on to bigger and better things. But something about the bar owner, Anthony Cross makes it impossible to leave.

Anthony has never let on to the general public that he’s a vampire, and most of his staff members have no idea Boston Uncommon was a safe gathering place for supernaturals of all kinds. Now that it’s nothing but ash, the tentative peace among warring factions is starting to crumble. The last thing he wants to do is put Claudia in danger, but he also knows there’s no way he can let her go…

Anyone who knows me will probably be surprised when I say that I’ve never actually read any Vampire Erotica before. No, seriously. Unless you include Slash Fiction…which I don’t! 😉 So when I saw this on NetGalley I thought I’d give it a go, and although I didn’t LOVE LOVE it, I’m glad I did.

The story isn’t bad, and the writing isn’t bad either, it’s just a bit too…shallow…for my liking.

Vampire meets girl, girl is an alcoholic bar manager so Vampire coverts bar into teashop. Vampire’s Vampire ex is a crazy stalker bitch who doesn’t like girl very much. ‘Paranormals’ are being experimented on, so Vampire and his ‘Para’ friends must stop them which is quite difficult when all he wants to do is have his wicked way with girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of light-hearted trashy lit now and again, and this did satisfy that but I wanted more. More than anything, I wanted Anthony to be a better, hotter vampire. I mean he seemed pretty good at Teh Sex, but he was a lame vampire. There was no mystery or danger about him, in fact, if I hadn’t been told, I wouldn’t have believed he was a vampire at all. He didn’t drink anyone’s blood, he didn’t have any bloodlust, and he didn’t even see fit to do away with his stalker ex who was threatening to kill his ‘beloved’. Rubbish.

But, I did enjoy parts of Kissing with Fangs. It was a quick read with some nice touches (err hello, Merman!) and I definitely wouldn’t be put off reading more in the series/from the author (just less of the ‘she worried her lip’ please!).

unicorn rating 2

Disclosure?: I received an Advanced Review Copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley. Many Thanks!
Title: Kissing With Fangs
Author: Ashlyn Chase
Details: Paperback, e-book, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
My Rating: 2/5