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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Lost Souls

Parajunkee's View Vampire Challenge, Review #13 - Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

If you thought that Anne Rice - or Stephenie Meyer - was the reigning queen of vampire novels, think again. This book blew my mind. Dripping in spooky cliche, knuckle-deep in gore, even the most horrific scenes written in lush, melancholy, almost lyrical prose, Lost Souls is, for me, THE ultimate vampire novel.

Source: Google Images
Lost Souls tells the story of six strange individuals - some human, some definitely not - whose lives collide. Nothing is a lonely young man wrapped up in a world of drugs, meaningless sex, black clothes and gloomy music who is unaware of his vampire parentage but knows that he is somehow different from his schoolfriends and finds peace in the taste of his own blood. Christian is a centuries-old vampire who runs a bar in New Orleans; he witnessed the terrifying circumstances of Nothing's birth and feels a deep loyalty and love towards his bloodsucking kin. Steve and Ghost are musicians and bandmates in Lost Souls? - closer than brothers yet very different. Steve is angry and volatile but fiercely protective towards Ghost; gentle Ghost has second sight, talks to spirits, and can't shield his mind from the thoughts of those around him. Ann is Steve's ex-girlfriend, doomed and bitter. Molochai, Twig and Zillah are black-clad, eyeliner-besmeared vampires dedicated to a life of revelry and debauchery and uncaring of the consequences.

From the very first page with its breathtakingly evocative rendering of New Orleans in the midst of Mardi Gras, I was captured and drawn into the passionate and horrific world of Lost Souls. Brite's magic causes the reader to love her characters, steeped in sin and devoid of true emotion as some of them may be and despite the desperate choices and sickening mistakes some of them make. We watch Nothing come undone as he is pulled inexorably into Zillah's 'family', and whilst we half-wish for him to turn back before he succumbs to his vampire heritage, something about Zillah's philosophy of blood and pleasure is captivating and causes us almost to urge him on.

The blood, guts, and slightly cringey Goth stereotypes such as self-harm and promiscuity may not be to everyone's tastes, and I would like to add the brief caveat to any concerned parents (or babybats) who have been flicking through the pages of Brite's work that this is not, in general, how Goths behave. However, the book itself is 'so Goth' that it may as well turn up swathed in cobwebs and gift-wrapped in a Bauhaus poster. If your ideal vampire story combines Anne Rice's decadent prose and the setting of the early Goth scene when everyone was big-haired and clad in leather with splatterings of gore offset by mournful whimsy, you'll love Lost Souls.

Listening to: Scilence - Unter Null

6 comments:

Nightwind said...

Thanks for the tip Amy. I just checked and am happy to learn that our public library does indeed have "Lost Souls" in its catalog, so it's on my list of must reads.

I'm currently enjoying "The Witching Hour" by Anne Rice. This is also an awesome book.

Nina @ Death Books and Tea said...

I read this....it didn't seem my sort of thing. Maybe cos of all the sex in it, and the self harm etc. But I liked Exquisite Corpse, which is along the same lines....I think this is one of those books you may or may not like.

Luna said...

This is definitely all my list of all-time-favourite books. I know a lot of people were squicked by the incest and the graphic sex, etc etc, but it's all so poetic that it almost doesn't matter. (I still thought it was hot shhhh...)

If you haven't all ready, read her "Exquisite Corpse." It's just as wonderfully written except featuring serial killers as opposed to vampires. "Drawing Blood" is also great, but a little harder to get a hold of.

Anonymous said...

For three short paragraphs, you've managed to cover all the essentials. It's worth pointing out that Brite wrote the book nearly 20 years ago, long before all those "cringey Goth stereotypes" WERE stereotypes. Brite wrote directly from her experiences inside the early 90s New Orleans scene and, judging from her interviews promoting the book, promiscuity for its own sake, rampant drug-use, self-harm, sleazy clubs, runaways hustling for tricks, club kids going missing, and all sorts of nastiness were commonplace. If you ever get a chance to talk to Helter Skelter regulars back when it was held at Stardust Ballroom (as opposed to all the dozens of middle-aged goths who missed out and now claim they did), you'll hear similar horror stories about West Coast goths. That may, perhaps, be the most unsettling part of "Lost Souls". It appears to be an accurate snapshot of the times.

Anonymous said...

If it's okay to make a recommendation, you should read Venomous by Christopher Krovatin.

Anonymous said...

This is a great book! But I definitely woudln't reccomend it for young goths because of the violence, drug use, sex, and gore.

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