Friday, April 9, 2010

Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

Poppy Z. Brite smashed down the walls around the goth sub-culture with this Lost Souls, her first full length novel. She also re-invigorated the vampire genre with a unique mythos that went against the grain - and against Anne Rice's romanticizing and taming of the vampires themselves.

Zillah, Molochai and Twig are a different breed of vampires. This breed is not sensitive to the sun, garlic, or even holy relics. And unlike your classic creatures of the night, they can breed with humans - but the mother always dies during childbirth.

They travelled the world in an eternally nomadic state for decades - drinking blood, causing chaos, and living hedonistic lives - but now they've come to New Orleans to visit the much older and more relaxed Christian. After a night of drunken revelry the trio take off again and he is left with the unfortunate responsibility of looking after Jesse, a young woman impregnated by Zillah. Jesse eventually succumbs to the fate of all mothers bearing vampire babies, and Christian leaves the child on someone's doorstep.

Upon discovering his true heritage fifteen years later, the boy - now named Nothing - decides to leave his adoptive life behind and search out the sounds of his favorite band, Lost Souls? (and yes, that question mark is part of the band name...), and begin his life anew.

Lost Souls? is having a hard enough time, as psychically gifted singer Ghost can tell that something bad is coming to the town of Missing Mile, North Carolina. Ghost's best friend and bandmate Steve is desperately trying to drink himself sober after breaking up with his girlfriend, Anne - who Ghost sees is looking for love that Steve cannot give.

All of these people are fated to meet in the streets of New Orleans, with an outcome that's terrifyingly brutal and beautiful all the same.

Poppy Z. Brite writes with such an elegant brutality that I find it hard not to compare her to Clive Barker. She depicts New Orleans as one of the most hauntingly beautiful cities in all of the world, and then writes a river of blood to flow steadily underneath it all. The writing is compelling, the story is dark and brooding, and the characters are incredibly memorable. Brite is not afraid to combine heterosexual eroticism with homoerotic undertones, something done by few other writers in the genre, barring the aforementioned Barker.

A truly compelling and original concept, Lost Souls is destined to be a classic within the goth subculture as well as with open minded horror fans.

PBH

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