Series: Horror, Dark & Lite
Author: Anel Viz
Genre: Anthology/Bundle, BDSM, Contemporary, Crime (police/detectives/PI), Gay, Male/Female, Paranormal/Alternate World, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Thriller, Vampires
Length: Novel (197 pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (October 20th, 2012)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥2 Hearts
Blurb: The vampires, serial killers, and shape-shifters in the three novellas in this companion volume to Horror Lite will drain the blood from your heart. Where it goes from there is no one’s business but your own.
“Val” — For years, Brad has been obsessed with the memory of his dead lover, Val. His obsession takes over his life when he meets another Val, a hustler who looks exactly like the first.
“Slasher” — A man is found in a cubicle at a gay bathhouse with his throat slit. Then another victim turns up. Only Lou’s lover, Jamie, can identify the most likely suspect.
“The Matador” — Soledad de Riquer feels certain that her brother, the celebrated matador El Valiente, has his eye on her young boyfriend, Adulio.
CONTENT ADVISORIES: This title contains subjects of rape or near rape, extreme violence, and sex in partially shifted form. “Val” is a re-edited, re-release story.
Review: The first story in this book is Val and damn it if I know what to make out of it. Sex! Everything revolved around sex. A creepy kind of sex that started from Brad’s obsession with his long dead ex-lover. Truly, it’s a fascination story the way it was told. Brad once had a lover, Val, and then they broke up, amicably. Years later, he stumbles upon him but this time Val is dying from AIDS. After his death Brad’s obsession begins and for years he vainly attempts to clone hustlers into his ex-lover, not the way he looked like when alive, but sick, pale, dying…
Creepy? You have no idea. Reading this brought shivers down my body, yet it’s not horror or anything like that. It’s simply the re-enacting a dead lover, the idea is skin crawling.
All this endless stream of hustlers takes an abrupt end when Brad stumbles upon a real double of Val. He looks just like him, but it’s no longer role-playing. The new hustler’s name is Val, he talks, walks, and does pretty much everything like the original Val. Somehow though, while they are having sex, something happens and reality merges with fantasy, the line blur, a dreamlike blend occurs and Brad end up making passionate love, animalistic even to this new Val. He no longer longs for what was lost, he simply want this new thing never to end.
And from that moment on there is sex on all forms, anything you can imagine (no kinks). The plot, if there even is one, completely revolves around the sex. The relationship Brad and Val share has nothing more. What contributes more to the creepy/unknown factor is that we never really get to understand who or what Val – this new one – is. There are hints that he is perhaps not a real person, but nothing concrete. Brad surly never figures out that there might be more to his Val, not even when surrounded at some point by dozens of Val’s clones.
As the story moves along – a good eighty pages – the feeling of the text changes from creepy to dreamy. I kept thinking that the character was dreaming everything that happened to him and he’d wake up any moment and bring us with him into a scary reality. No it didn’t happen so, but the end, the epilogue did leave me wondering what on earth happened and who the Hell was Val?
. It was weird and I kept expecting the vampires to come, but the slight relation to vampirism was Val’s supposed illness and that was not what I’d call horror/paranormal. So in the end I read a story that even though it made no sense to me at all, as I so no real purpose to it, I still somehow liked.
P.s.: There are some serious similes all through the text. No scratch that, the entire text was simile after simile, the most overwhelming of all was the horse/rider one. Interesting how I still can’t get some images off of my head.
Immediately follows the Slasher, a story that had a serial killer going after gay man. Lou is at the baths when the slasher first hits, leaving behind him a bloody room and the police trying to find out whom among the clients might have seen something. Jamie, one of the attendants, noticed someone suspicious and that marks the beginning of a hide and seek sick game. During the hours they spend, waiting to be questioned Lou and Jamie hit it off together and made plans for a future date. Two months later and they still haven’t made it so Lou starts searching for him. Apparently, he’s not the only one because the moment our pair reconnect the slasher makes an appearance as well killing yet another man right outside Jamie’s former work place. Convinced he’s being haunted by the slasher Jamie tries to survive, make a blossoming relationship work, and prove that the slasher is not a made up character of his imagination or drama.
This story is suspense and more or less not a bad one. However, the entire plot, connection with characters and intrigue were at a loss. The dialogues were stilting and quite boring, the chemistry between the pair was lacking and the intimate scenes between them didn’t appeal at all. The eroticism expected was missing and made the entire read drag, as there was nothing more to keep you interested. On top of that, we had Lou going in an instantly serious relationship with Jamie. One moment they are still relative strangers the next they’re moving in together. Their entire relationship was a bit surreal.
Plot-wise I didn’t see the reasons behind the attacks and stalking on Jamie. The villain was just a presence who took a face at the very end, but his intentions and the how’s/why’s were never explained. Overall, I didn’t quite enjoy this one.
Third and last story in this book is The Matador.
In this story, the plot is quite simple though again it drags on quite a while. Soledad lives in a world that is filled in bigotry. Her parents disown her for having not only lost her virginity, but also managed to get pregnant and secretly have an abortion. Her sins in their eyes are too great to have her in their home and with their other children.
Her only ties with her family now is her big brother Luis (the matador) and her bitterness shows a lot, because while she is disowned by her prude family, Luis who is gay is not and his little sin his overlooked because he’s famous and made a life for himself.
So even though she’s happy that she at least still has family to call her own, things slowly change when she introduces him to her lover Adulio.
Honestly, the story was not so very attracting. It took forever to reach to a point and when it did, it ended too quickly. There was a pattern on the dialogues with them dragging on and on while the two characters argue or find endless reasons to rebuke the other’s demands. It was the same on all three stories and made the text quite tiresome. You simply couldn’t get attached with any of the characters and the sense of depression was overbearing.
In the end, there was an abrupt merge with the paranormal in this story. The Shapeshifter seemed to come from nowhere. One could say that there were grounds to make this blend and put this idea to work, but after all that happened and after all that drama the paranormal addition left me thinking “what the Hell?” It could have been better exploited in my opinion, but in this case, it was just surreal.
Overall, this book didn’t meet with my expectations. I expected horror, dark, or light, but there was no such thing in none of the three stories. They were odd and weird sure, but nothing to make you scream or put them in the horror genre, therefore they failed for me.