September 9th, 2004

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Freaktacular...

So it's time to get back on to that Arts & Lit theme for a bit. I was walking around Noreascon one night (Friday? might have been...) when a gal stopped me outside the Mended Drum and said "Do you want a horror book? Someone just gave me two copies and told me to give one to somebody I didn't know." I kid you not.

Now being a total book whore, I accepted it.

A Choir of Ill Children is a funky-ass Southern gothic by Tom Piccirilli. It's really strange. It's "Inbred Deformed Family X-Files" strange, with a dash of acid and crystal thrown in.

It's a real achievement to blend the stuff of backwater reality and backwoods urban legend into a successful narrative that hangs together. There are the requisite antebellum mansion, triplets conjoined at the forebrain (yes, medically impossible), sexual relationships between adults and teens, murder, New Yorkers who think all southerners are stupid, alligator attacks and broken-down carnivals.

It's actually a really fabulous story. Thomas, our narrator, is a pretty well educated heir to the family business (well, the only business in Kingdom Come besides the general store). He takes care of his brothers (the aforementioned conjoined triplets) with the help of the teenage daughter of the preeminent granny-witch of the county. They're going to be the subject of a documentary by a pair of New York film students.

I could tell you more, but you wouldn't believe it. The story just keeps spiraling downward into madness. It becomes very difficult to differentiate between dream and reality. I'm not sure if I could even tell you how it ends. Really.

And, you know, it does this all without ever getting pornographic or exploitive.

If you like the deranged, the depraved and the just plain odd, dig up A Choir of Ill Children.
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