Zakk reviews Blood Kiss by J. Daniel Stone

“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”


Zakk reviews Blood Kiss by J. Daniel Stone, 331 pages published Villipede Publications October 30, 2016.

“When I paint it feels more like an out-of-body experience. The mind I once controlled begins its kinky control of me. I am no longer a flesh and bone organism, yet I know that my cells are replicating and dying as they traverse the labyrinth of pale vessels. I can still feel my lungs soak in air like giant pink sponges; my brain still throbs at excitement of a new idea. 

But I am not myself.”

Synopsis

To macabre painter Dorian Wilde, art is a weapon. Dissatisfied with life and where it is leading him, he looks to himself and to his partner, Leland, for answers that cannot be.

Tyria Vane is a spoken word poet who has never felt part of any clique or crowd. She is haunted by dreams of an abusive childhood that she can only make sense of through words, and with the help of her lover, Adelaide.

An unexpected introduction sparks new promise in Dorian’s creative heart, in Tyria’s poetic soul, and they begin to understand that only together are they able to satiate their weird lusts and personal tortures. Is art love or is love art? Set between the shadows of Manhattan and Brooklyn, what could have been a masterpiece in paint and prose might end up being the worst thing that anyone can imagine.

Is art love or is love art? Set between the shadows of Manhattan and Brooklyn, what could have been a masterpiece in paint and prose might end up begin the worst thing that anyone can imagine.

“Candlelight vigil for the setting of mood, wet movement of bodies sonorous and sweet. Amplifiers for the illusion of sound or the reality of it. Chains and silk swing off the microphone; a painter’s easel is spotlighted by one weak light. The room smells of Nag Champa. 

Sit back, relax and enjoy the show.”

Thoughts

Firstly, the world of east coast underground performance art and spoken word poetry slam is a world that I, for the lack of a better term, just don’t get. I understand the appeal, and I am a fan of poetry (and of art for that matter), it’s the aggressive industrial and/ or Gothic in-your face delivery that doesn’t really appeal to me. Maybe it’s a youth’s game whereas I am a simple old man. It could be that I’ve only experienced it through a Hollywood lens that tends to distort the truth of things, presenting ideals at the angle of trying to sell a product to the masses. Or maybe because I consider myself a little more Slayer and a lot less Otep. I’m more into the west coast thrash metal scene of denim, spikes, and headbanging. I don’t know, perhaps seeing a real world performance in person would challenge me, open up my cerebrum a bit. Live really is the only way to truly absorb a performance. This is a hurdle I had to overcome with Blood Kiss, a novel set in the eye of the performance art storm.

While I wasn’t quite able to leap over this hurdle I did manage to step over gracefully and find a safe corner to view the carnage.

Blood Kiss is quite a dark and stylistic bit of fiction. A typhoon of words, music, and art. With the tongue spitting out phrases as aggressively as a brush slashing through canvas. And while I had a bit of trouble connecting wholly with the cast on a personal level, the bleak lives of the diverse, all-inclusive characters and other-side-of-the-tracks landscape was pretty gorgeous and rather immersive. It’s a whole new world through the looking glass. These oily streets are hypnotizing, the dingy souls inhabiting it magnetized yet resistant to each other, this is a dangerous world that readers are traveling into and there are no safety bars to hold on to, nor is there anyone to show you the way, proceed cautiously.

J. Daniel Stone has an obtuse writing style that serves the subject matter well. It’s challenging, labyrinthine. Sexy and tragic. Lyrical and layered, not always straight forward.. or is it? Truth and metaphor are subjective, and it’s up to you to decode the words to see how they fit. You will have to earn this read, but you will be rewarded for doing so. The depths of which Stone takes his constructs (pain and pleasure), and the entities conjured from these depths, is something to behold. The devil’s snare that entwines main characters Dorian Wilde (get it?) and Tyria Vane, ever constricting the two, feels like a living thing. Bringing lives together, perhaps not the way they wanted, whilst tearing lives apart, also perhaps not the way the wanted. Not only for these two suns but also for everyone else in the eclipse. Love is pain. So is a life worth living.

My favorite moment in Blood Kiss is the journey Tyria takes Dorian on, The Path to the Books. A dreamlike segment, It’s the moment that I felt fully entwined to the novel. How much of this jaunt is “real” and how much is metaphor? What’s in there? Only what you take with you. This is a wonderful, magical moment that I wish I could walk into. It is also the moment that makes me question if I’ve taken everything that has preceded the “wrong” way. Cryptic, isn’t it? Yeah, Blood Kiss is.

I am an outsider looking in on this mesmerizing world of Blood Kiss. I don’t feel safe, but I am helpless to look away.

“Behind it the starry glow of books, each one fastened with little bits of dream and nightmare, universes long forgotten. I had no real vision inside this place; it was replaced by that of a child’s. I saw rocking chairs too big to describe, hammocks and lawns and picnic baskets. There were cobwebs and dust mites, pencil shavings and dribbles of ink everywhere. I imagined disheartened authors crooning over their pens and papers like junkies do the spoon and lighter. They do it until they bleed, until they get it right.”

Recommendation

Check out the preview and see if Blood Kiss is up your alley. It is Art House horror that will reward you more for every layer you peel back and explore. I think you’ll find something here to tickle your fancy, whatever your fancy may be.

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

**Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and/ or publisher and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.

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