Poppy Z. Brite,
Lost Souls
(Abyss/Bantam, 1992)

Lost Souls is a graphic, intense, sexy novel by the High Priestess of weird horror, Poppy Z. Brite. A young author whose writing garnered her critical acclaim, Brite leads the reader into a world of despair, drugs, sex and blood; a world where magic and mystery are both impossible and most likely.

Zillah, Molochai and Twig are vampires, belonging to an ancient species, akin to humans, but not human at all. Vampires can breed with humans, but the birth always kills the mother. These three travel the world, causing havoc, hunting and drinking blood. They visit New Orleans and the bar of Christian, a fellow vampire. Christian is older than the trio, and more sedate. However, an evening of Chartreuse and debauchery leaves Christian caring for Jesse, a young girl impregnated by Zillah. Eventually, she gives birth and dies. Christian leaves the baby on a doorstep.

Forward fifteen years -- a young boy discovers the truth of his heritage. He was not adopted, but found. His name is not Jason, but Nothing, and he is determined to leave behind those parents and people in the small town that is boring and draining at the same moment. Infatuated by the music of a band, Lost Souls, Nothing is determined to find them.

Meanwhile, in Missing Mile, North Carolina, the band Lost Souls has its own problems. Ghost is psychically sensitive, and can tell that something is about to happen. His best friend Steve is determined to drown himself in liquor and guilt, following the breakup with his girlfriend, Anne. All of these people are fated to come together, first in Missing Mile, then in New Orleans. When the do come together, the mix of personalities both vampiric and human are explosive.

Brite has created a world where no one is quite what they seem, and everyone has something to learn about themselves and their loves. I found Lost Souls to be profoundly disturbing and also fascinating. I was unable to read it for long periods at a stretch, yet I could not put it away completely. The book includes mature scenes and graphic descriptions of violence, without any glamorization of drugs and violence. All of the sex and violence were a natural outgrowth of the characters' personalities; none of it seemed contrived or stuck in simply for the sake of having sex and violence in the book.

[ by Beth Derochea ]

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