I want to be upfront about this review straight away. The fact that Carmilla lives only about 20 miles along the Moray Firth coast in Scotland from me, that she is a Goth, has seemingly excellent musical tastes and, best of all, writes horror novels, has absolutely no influence on my opinion of her book. Nope, not at all.
Though there is the intention to do a face to face interview as a follow up to this review, Camilla and I haven't actually met as yet. If memory serves me correctly, our paths crossed via a book discussion group on Facebook (naturally, a group mostly involving the horror genre). It was through this that Camilla asked me to review her book in my blog. It was only after agreeing to that and then doing some legalised stalking on Facebook that I realised how geographically close we are.
Carmilla Voiez resides in in Banff, in the North East of Scotland. She is currently putting the finishing touches to the final instalment of the Starblood trilogy and is also planning world domination for the Sisterhood of Feminazi Splatter Goth - more of which later in this piece.
Starblood tells the story of a circle of friends and acquaintances including Satori (Steve) and Star (Sarah) who inhabit the Goth subculture in a southern city in England. Torn apart by his obsessive love for Star , Satori, who has a knowledge of magic, accidentally unleashes the demon Lilith after producing a spell that he hoped would win back Star.
This demon, in the words of the author to me, is "mad, bad and very very dangerous"….. so much so that clearly things are not going to go well for those that inspire the wrath of Lilith - and believe me she has a LOT of wrath.
In fact Lilith soon decides to wreak her own particular brand of sexual and murderous havoc and instigates a horrific chain of events amongst the interconnected group of people in the story. Meanwhile, Satori realises that he must devise a way of sending the demon back to hell.
The story makes for an often brutal (both psychologically and physically) journey. We see characters and plot evolve before our very eyes, until we eventually move away from the seedy nightclub culture to my part of the world in Scotland where we witness a final, desperate conclusion to the story.
Yes, at face value, Starblood is a heady and rich mixture of horror and erotica - and both of those genre's are written beautifully. The horror is suitably graphic and brutal at times, the erotic scenes too are wonderfully described.
However, it is also a story about flawed individuals who at face value may seem arrogant and superficial, but underneath are simply trying to make sense of the unravelling chaos and confusion that soon surrounds them as Lilith and her world of devious, and deviant turmoil slowly envelops them. Starblood is a wonderful read - I finished it in a day, which for me, traditionally a slow reader, is almost unheard of.
However, don't just take my word for it. Carmilla recently won the author of the year award from Horror fans asylum.
The thing that I perhaps enjoyed most from the experience of reading Starblood was the way that Carmilla seems to have taken a number of 'commonalities' in some traditional horror and simply reverses them. Foremost in this subversion of horror rules is the role of men and women. Take for instance my two favourite characters, Satori and Lilith. Satori is in some ways the traditional stereotyped female character - vain, superficial and lacking in a degree of common sense. He thinks that he is in control, but in reality he is the victim of practices and actions that he simply doesn't understand.
Lilith is simply delicious, acting as the driving force and instigator of the violence that ensues - her actions are, amoral, powerful, lustful and vengeful. And she does it all with more than a touch of panache. I may be just a little bit smitten.
Carmilla clearly wants to write about, and comment upon, the roles of females in contemporary society and showing that through a strong powerful (both physically and sexually) female character, those issues can be brought to a wider audience. Carmilla and her Sisterhood of Feminazi Splatter Goth's aim seems to be a wish to remove some of those traditional horror cliches', particularly sexual ones - 'The first nubile young teen to have sex is always the first to die', a prime case in point. This new genre of horror, Feminaze splatter Goth, will take some of this cliches and shove them down your throat - sometimes quite deliciously literally as seen in this story …..
This may unsettle some more of the 'traditionalist' followers of horror that like to see their 'scream queens' go through the requisite range of decibel cries for help - instead we witness the females being the violent and sexual aggressors whilst the males for the most part are the victims (though not always)……. well as Lilith herself would say to those people raising an eyebrow to this horror subversion …..
" You want power and glory…..I see through you, into the black heart beating pointlessly in your skinny chest. You are nothing, good for nothing."
There is a quite wonderful video that has been produced to accompany the Starblood trilogy, with a quite delicious musical background too - the link can be found HERE.
The second book in the trilogy - Psychonaut, is available now both in the traditional ( and best) format and on kindle, HERE
"Satori is caught between two worlds. There is something he needs in one, but the other keeps drawing him back. However, he is in love and he isn’t going to let a little thing like death get in his way. To reach his goal, he must face unimaginable horrors, not least of which is his true self.
Star’s tortured and broken body awaits Satori, but does she really need him to save her? His rival, a rage-filled young woman, grows more powerful and becomes as twisted as the ribbons in her hair while the demon, Lilith, draws each of them inexorably towards her. Who will survive the coming battle?" (Description taken from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AZ8B1OQ )
Book 3 in the series- Black Sun, will be out in September of 2013.
For more information on Carmilla and her work you can view her website at http://www.carmillavoiez.com.