Page Fifteen

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Thoroughbred by Steven Shrewsberry (2006 Leisure Books/Dorchester Publishing.  Read more about the author and the novel  here.

     Firstly, let me step over to the podium and tell you a little bit about Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, and in the process I’ll inject my opinions of these two books, covering all bases so at the end of reading this you’ll go away with this woman’s name grafted into your mind even though you may not know how to properly pronounce it.

Before we proceed, you might find my review of Andrea’s THE TWO to be a good appetizer (Go HERE for that).   Mind you, from this point on I aim to be quite frank.

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(All reviews copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Nicholas Grabowsky and Diverse Media, all rights reserved.   All book cover images are owned by their respective owners and used by permission.)

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     Andrea is, in her day-to-day routine of life, in essence, a simple Tampa, Florida girl with a loving husband and an average domestic lifestyle.  Talking to her on the phone, you get the feeling of having a casual conversation with someone carrying both the self-confidence of a United States Senator and the timid honesty of that one housewife in your neighborhood who actually has a good head on her shoulders but few neighbors take the time to find out, though nevertheless is a hit at Halloween.  But dig deeper than conversation, and you’ll discover a woman who had found herself, her role in this universe (at least in this lifetime), and, consequently, throughout the course of time, has found a way to express her persona and ambition tapped deep within herself that explodes upon the horror landscape with raw unbridled gusto both through her writing and an impressive years-long untiring promotion campaign that’s brought her name out into the forefront of gothic horror writers.

Her books, contrary to what you’d gather merely talking to her on the phone, are extremely explicit and unapologetic, the kind of material  that the entire U.S. population of religious fundamentalists would do everything in their power to ban should Andy become a commercial success, an endeavor that would make Harry Potter books seem like Barney to  the right-wing-inclined. 

Man of Two Worlds is comprised of a central story containing many delightful sub-stories of the ghoulish supernatural characters who comprise a “skeleton crew” for a film director embattled with rumors his movie set’s haunted, which frightened away a previous crew who had more “life” in them.   The film director eventually learns what it’s like to be one of the new crew, one of their kind, in a tale very well told and exhibits one of Andrea’s shining accomplishments as a story teller.

Michael deals with Taylor, a timid, troubled young man who happens upon one Michael Paxton while spending one of many quiet times in his town’s isolated cemetery.  As it turns out, Michael has been a spirit roaming the cemetery who decided to possess the body of a freshly-buried corpse of a young man who dug himself from the ground to become human enough to claim Taylor as his lover forever.  Taylor, a devote heterosexual male, finds his life turned upside down in ways he never imagined.  Is Michael a vampire?  Well, no.  He eats people.  Is he a zombie?  Well, no, because zombies don’t have anal intercourse, and if they did, and they came inside you, you don’t become one of them.

Yes, Andy’s works are that raw.  Who’d have thought, just by talking to her.

She writes quite skillfully, which is very dangerous when it comes to expressing stories like Michael, particularly, because what she has to say is vivid, the characters pull you in, the violence is enough in itself to satisfy even the pickiest of hardcore gorehounds, and the gay sex and graphic nature steps on your skull and scrapes your teeth against the cement curb like an angry rapist having his way with you on a suburban side street in the dead of night when the countless people in the surrounding homes are all fast asleep and haven't the faintest notion of your violent plight to stay alive, where you could cry out but no one would hear you except the restless ones in the graveyard nearby, waiting for you to join them.

But I’ve said enough already.

On a small note, in regards to Michael, I would have loved to have seen the Danny character (the ex-cop) appear way earlier on, because he appeared too abruptly with not enough time to digest,  and he would have been more convincing as being connected with a police investigation sub-plot as the whole story went from almost the beginning....but that's just me......

     The book itself incorporates six tales along those lines, the final story more present-day, and throughout Steven proves himself an able storyteller.  The title story concerning Rogan, a rogue hunter/muscle-for-hire who happens upon a village who employs him not only as its protector against an onslaught of bloodthirsty Satyrs, but unbeknownst to him as human fertilizer (read it, you’ll get it), is definitive to Shrewsbury’s writing and top notch storytelling.  Brisk pacing, solid storylines that draw you rather than making you yawn turning pages to get to the point, great vision.

Presence of Mine Enemies, a tale of Goliath (as in David and….) was one of my personal favorites (considering my own persuasions and religious history), and Man Out of Time served up some good suspense in an African abyss.

Great material to escape into at any given time, and I look forward to reading Steven further. 

 

 

Caress of a Psychopath  (Sallos: His Former Years) by Cinsearae R. Santiago (2006 Lulu.  Read more about the author's works  here.)

A Man of Two Worlds/ Michael  by Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc (2006 Ephemera Bound Publishing.)  Read more about the author & book here.

     Cinsearae R. Santiago has made an eye-opening name for herself as a result of her Blood Touch series of erotic vampire horror novels centering on her Gratista Vampire Clan creation and her writing efforts over the last several years to the date of this review.  She’s been writing for a much longer period, her work appearing in small press literary magazines, currently has one of her own, Dark Gothic Resurrected,

 

    

Shrewsbury, with Thoroughbred, brings back the kind of fiction Robert Howard presented and indeed does justice to the predominant themes in this work of ancient Barbarian days.

 

and her larger work is currently self-published and marketed to a degree of success and notoriety I find utterly admirable (I’m a sucker for literary talent do-it-yourselfers).  In command of her career, she’s one of the few who’s truly found her niche and a resulting gothic genre fandom always eager for more of what she dishes out.  What she writes is explicitly no holds barred and her storytelling is executed with a tortured fuck-you prose and passion that makes reading her a hell of a lot of unbridled fun. 

Caress of a Psychopath (or Sallos: His Former Years), is the latest in Cinsearae’s Blood Touch series and centers on the author’s popular character of Matthew Clarizio, who becomes Sallos, beginning with his defiantly youthful life in South Philadelphia and the suicide of his parents.  It takes the reader through the exploits and sets of circumstances which lead to Clarizio's evolution as a vampiric personality and then as the full-fledged Vampire Sallos himself, introduces us to a colorful clan of dark like-minded immortals and ragtag characters and sends us on a journey of exploitation and often violent, blood-soaked and sexual exhibition. 

Cinsearae’s writing style flows with a rhythm and pace that moves the reader through the pages in its narrative and sequences of action, its vivid characterization, though (and while myself being all too aware erotica is part of the presentation) the pace suffers in often excruciatingly detailed scenes of explicit sex that are well-intended but wallow in unnecessary play-by-plays that would do the novel as a whole great justice if trimmed down for the sake of valuable story momentum.

All in all, any vampire/horror fan or goth enthusiast is guaranteed a blast of a time, a world of rich uncompromising literary design told at streetsmart level, an asset to the genre, and comes recommended by me.