Let me paint the picture for you. It is a warm, sunny afternoon; the kind that should be spent in a comfortable chair, sipping a gin and tonic and reading a book. I, naturally, am wandering the aisles of my sister-in-law’s bookstore while we discuss our next crazy reading idea and shelve books. Is anyone up for reading all of Shakespeare’s plays? How about we also tackle the Romantic poets while we are at it? Anyway, we are meandering by the Paranormal Romance section when a book cover catches Kaisha’s eye: an inviting crimson chaise lounge flanked by candles and, of course, padded manacles. Intrigued, she snatches up the book and reads the synopsis out loud, “Johnathan has always been very spiritual…in his own way. He was raised to believe in the sacraments, and even as a child his favorite was always Communion, the eating of the body of Christ. Since he was taught that we are all made in the image of God, it seemed only natural to him to take it one step further—to eat actual flesh from a living body. He started with small bits of his own…” To say that this was not what we were expecting to read was an understatement. I could see a tremor pass through Kaisha as she clutched the book and I had to force my heart to steady. Once the initial shock was over, we decided to take the book back to horror, where it rightly belonged, so as to save some unsuspecting reader the same visceral reaction we just had.
Somehow, however, the damned book came home with me, kind of like the time I ended up bringing home Bimbos of the Death Sun and The Sex Lives of Cannibals (I don’t have a cannibalism problem, I swear, just an impulsive nature and way too much curiosity). The challenge, this time, was to read the book as if reading Proust and then write a thorough literary critique. I hate to inform you all that a formal critique will not be happening. While I enjoyed Bimbos of the Death Sun, I did not enjoy Ambrosial Flesh. I couldn’t even finish the damned book. I was hoping for Dean Koontz and instead I got Christine Feehan, without all the fun sex. I think that Feehan does a better job with characterization.
The best part of this book was the beginning, where Jonathan is watching the clothes tumble in the dryer and thinking of them as circus clowns. This writing was intriguing. It quickly petered out. I found the characters one dimensional. Frankly, if I were Johnathan, I would have eaten Cindy too, just to make her shut up. On top of the annoying characters, there were many other problems. For one, the dialogue sucked. Cheesy one-liners ruined any realness in the story. On top of it, who in the hell would sleep with a man who never takes his socks off, let alone be married to him for seven years? Also, I was under the impression that horror was supposed to be scary, or at least suspenseful? This book was neither; it was only gross.
This book is a prime example of the primary law of writing. If you write well, you can write about anything. Take The Story of the Eye as an example, disturbing, suspenseful, dirty and beautifully written. If you can’t write well, you should probably just stick to writing about vampires.
So, instead of writing that formal critique, I am going to use this book to make my English team’s masquerade masks for prom this weekend. I am going to cannibalize the book!