Friday, October 17, 2014

Horror List Book Review: Drawing Blood

Remember my post about working my way through the Nightmare Magazine's Top 100 List? (Plus another list, and now we've found another list with more recent books on it. You'll find my updated list of books read from each list at the end of this post.)

The first book I read was Poppy Z. Brite's Drawing Blood, because that's the first one I found at the library. I also thought I'd already read it, but it turns out I hadn't.

First, let me say that I enjoy Brite's writing. I already knew this from having read other books by her. She writes dark, lush, fertile words, setting scenes that are simultaneously putrid and beautiful. Her characters are fully fleshed out, not the cream of society, but relate-able.

Despite the characterization and rich words, it was slow going for me, and took me awhile to get through. I kept waiting for the horror. It does start with a bang (or a pow...a slam?) when the main character's father murders his family, leaving Trevor alive, then kills himself. Then it segued into a romance between the two main males in the story, Trevor and Zach. I kept waiting for the scary stuff to begin, but it didn't come around until about 50% (on Kindle) of the way through the book. Even then, it was few and far between. One scene here, with something minor. Another here, maybe escalated a little. Quite frankly, there was more sex than there were scares. There were also far more joints smoked than chills given. I tired of reading about them getting stoned, taking shrooms, etc. Especially when one of them did so with a concussion, while on the run from the law. Really?, Wendy Owens & Netalloy
It simply didn't do it for me. The scares weren't all that scary. They were dark, yes, but not frightening. This is a haunted house story on the one hand, psychological horror on the other, but neither is as developed as I would have liked to see it. It was more character driven than plot driven, by far, which could have lent itself to the psychological aspects. But it didn't. Following a man who is crawling into the recesses of his dead father's mind to find out why he spared his life and left him behind could have been blood curdling, but it fell short. I wasn't drawn into that portion of the story. And the haunted house? Meh. There was only one time anyone really felt in jeopardy from spirits, and it was fleeting.

One other problem I had was the ease with which the unusual was accepted. Zach accepts everything he's told. His boyfriend tries to murder him, and he instantly buys the reasoning behind it and calmly deals with it. This is someone he's just met. Furthermore, each person they tell about the events occurring buys them instantly. I didn't find that believable.

All I can conclude is that it made the list for the beauty and depth of the writing, not because it's particularly scary. It was cotton candy--pretty, with good elements, but not filling. It's worth a read if you're okay with the explicit sex scenes, but if it's fright you're looking for, well, let's just say I read this in the dark while my husband was on a business trip, and it didn't faze me in the least.

Note: I should point out that this was only her second book, as far as I'm aware. I'm sure she's improved quite a bit since then. Still, this is one of the books that made the list.

Updated list of books I've read from the THREE lists:, Ted & OCAL
American Psycho
The Bad Place
Bag of Bones
Best New Horror, 1st Edition
The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
Drawing Blood
The Exorcist
Floating Dragon
Flowers in the Attic
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Grimm's Fairy Tales
The Haunting of Hill House
Heart-Shaped Box
I Am Legend
Interview with the Vampire
Jurassic Park
The Least of my Scars
Lord of the Flies 
Lost Boy Lost Girl
Love in Vein
Needful Things
Night Shift
Odd Thomas
Pet Semetary
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Red Dragon
Rosemary's Baby
Salem's Lot
The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs
Skeleton Crew
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The Stand
Sunglasses After Dark
The Vampire Lestat

Have you read Drawing Blood or any work by Poppy Z. Brite? What did you think? Did you check out the new list to see what you'd read on it?

May you find your Muse.


Anonymous said...

Since 3 of her books are on the first list, maybe I'll skip this one for now and try one of the others. I know it's always tricky, walking the line of who believes what and when. I personally enjoy a little denial at first, with the main character eventually forced to accept what he/she does not want to believe can be possible.

Andrew Leon said...

Jurassic Park and Lord of the Flies are on a horror list?
That's just weird.

Crystal Collier said...

I really haven't read much horror in years...unless you count Dean Koontz. I love a good, intense read with freaky scenes, but when there's excessive gore, or if it ends on a downer, I'n not much of a fan.

Crystal's Blog

John Wiswell said...

Not a bad record you've got there, from the lists at least. The Haunting of Hill House held up really well. Gosh, are The Stand and Salem's Lot great stuff.

Also, interesting that Jurassic Park appeared on Horror lists.

I keep forgetting that The Exorcist was a book to start!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Yeah, maybe hit the others first. I don't remember the others on the list. I think Love in Vein is a collection of shorts, so maybe start there? I do think there should be SOME disbelief. Otherwise, it smacks of being unreal to me.

Andrew, it is weird, isn't it? I guess Lord of the Flies is psychological horror. There are others on the list that make me scratch my head, but fair enough. It's someone's opinion.

Crystal, I prefer psychological horror, but gore won't necessarily rule something out for me.

John, I agree about Jurassic Park. I guess it's scientific horror? Or something? Oh, the book of The Exorcist is good!