Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
COVER by Jack Ketchum
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011BRIDES OF THE IMPALER by Edward Lee
Apologies, but it's been a week since I read this, so don't expect the degree of detail you usually get in one of my reviews!
I like Edward Lee. My first book was Slither which I bought at Heathrow Airport during my migration to Australia. That was a fun little romp, followed by The Golem, which was only spoiled by one annoying character.
Now Ed sent me a copy of Brides of the Impaler after he heard I was a fan (we share the same agent in Germany). I'll be honest, if I was to pick another Ed Lee book to read, this would not have been it. I would have gone for House Infernal or Flesh Gothic (which incidentally have been purchased since!). Brides seemed just a dark sex book judging from the blurb. But is it?
A successful macabre doll manufacturer, Christina, moves into the expensive NY house her hot shot lawyer husband bought her. Across the street sits the abandoned church which previously owned the house, where an old, brooding priest keeps watch. Something is buried under the brownstone house that is calling to Christina, filling her with passion and lust. The images of a vampiric nun haunt her day and night. Meanwhile, NY detective Vernon is on the case of a bunch of crazy, homeless women that are apparently impaling people on sharpened broom handles. The thing that links the two events are the colours police find at the crimes scene, and on the latest batch of macabre dolls...
Ed Lee is, as Cemetery Dance call him, "The hardest of the hardcore horror writers", but this book was on the light side in regards to gore and violence. Sure, the impalements are well done, and the bodies start to really pile up towards conclusion, but this reads like a more mature Ed Lee at work. Hang on...more mature? No, no. Gore and violence doesn't mean immature, but more the subplots are well-crafted and here the author prefers to use a steadily building sense of doom then go all out with an axe. It was a very refreshing affair, with more (vastly more!) sex than violence. The main character Christina rarely has her hands out of her pants...or someone else's, as this burning lust takes hold. Normally we have to discuss gore for gore's sake, but this was more masturbation for masturbation's sake. It is relative to the plot, but this character might have got through more batteries than the Duracell bunny.
*Yes, I understand that the whole selling point of the Duracell Bunny is that he can go on and on and on...but that's the point. He is ALWAYS on. A good battery or not, he would go through a FUCKLOAD of batteries.
** In fact it's a bad example. Parents: Yes, use good quality batteries, but please encourage your kids to turn off their toys when finished with them. We only get one earth...and a limited supply of Duracells. Or Everready, if that tickles your troat.
SEX! Yes, sexy sex and lots of it. This doesn't really spoil the story, but adds to the characterisation and the emotional history of the main character. This constant mental turmoil allows the reader to accept some of the more 'oh no she didn't' moments.
My favourite character was detective Vernon and his fellow cops. Lee captures NY perfectly (not that I've been, but I'm a Flight of the Conchords fan and it all seems to fit)and makes it a character itself more than just a setting. The banter between the cops is great.
Basically, this is one of the Edward Lee books that rarely gets a mention, and I hope he didn't send me this in particular because he has boxes of them unsold at his house. If he has, and even if he hasn't, which is likely, buy one. It's a very different feel to the other books I've read (in fact, it had a Masterton feel about it to this reader) and if you have a partner into the -ahem- naughty kind of novel, this might be a good way to share something. Sex and violence is always a good thing on paper between loving couples. Oh and don't be put off because it's vampires. They pay a small part but when they're on the scene, they're spot on.
Yeah. Readers of Ed should love this. Other general horror readers should get a kick out of it too.