Saturday, June 10, 2023

Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite


Whoa. This book was... something else. The first half of it was fantastic-- character development up to here, settings and atmosphere that had me feeling jealous, and the perfect blend of character-driven and story-driven elements propelling the book forward. The second half was... weird. Very, very, very weird. I was trying to think about what this book reminded me of and then it hit me: Stephen King's ROSE MADDER. The ending was like something out of a fever dream and I wasn't sure it worked. There was also some major insta-love between the two characters. They were both so broken, I wish there had been more time for them to build a rapport with each other on an emotional level before deciding they were in love after they did it once. I mean, really.

The story is very dark and I would advise anyone picking it up to go in with caution. It opens up with a violent murder-suicide scene and there are graphic depictions of self-harm. Towards the end, there's a lot of gore and emotional trauma. I didn't see many reviews warning people about this. The self-harm passage was particularly visceral and had me feeling a little light-headed (I think it occurs around 25% in the Kindle version).

Our two heroes are Zach and Trevor. Zach is a computer hacker and the son of abusive parents. Because of this he has major emotional intimacy problems and can't sleep with anyone he loves (or love anyone he sleeps with). Trevor, on the other hand, is the sole survivor of his father's murder rampage in their home. His father was an artist and an alcoholic before he just became an alcoholic (and then a murderer). Now Trevor himself is an artist and has become numb after a life spent in and out of foster homes. To anchor himself, he has returned to the scene of all of his traumas: the house in Missing Mile.

I think this book is worth reading because it is a work of LGBT+ horror, it is chock-full of '90s fringe culture references, and does a great job with atmosphere and setting. If the romance and the story had been just a little more fleshed-out this could have been an easy five-star read. I'm a little shocked that so many people were condemning this book for being too sexually graphic. Apart from being a little too descriptive about bodily fluid, this is more story than it is sex scene. I found the violence way more frequent and off-putting (funny how way fewer people are talking about that).

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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