Written by Sephera Giron
Published by Leisure Books
Psychopaths are always a fun topic to read about, especially those of the fictional variety. It’s pretty difficult to make the life of someone who gets their kicks from kinky sex and boiling skulls dull, but somehow Mistress of the Dark manages to nonetheless.
The entire novel is pawned off as journal entries of Abigail Barnum, a girl from a small town in upstate New York who breaks away from the confines of her hic life and makes the move to the Big Apple, searching for adventure and maybe a new start.
When we first meet Abby, she’s just started working at a fetish club called Ooolala, which draws it’s clientele by displaying the undergarments of famous people and hosting live drag queen shows. She takes a job there as a waitress and soon befriends a girl named Vicki. Together the two of they seduce a young man named Brad who moves in with the girls, and the three of them take up a life of work during the day and getting wasted and trying out new sexual adventures by night. One night Brad goes too far and Abby has to kill him, and while Vicki is passed out she chops his body up and disposes of it in pieces around New York.
Luckily for Abby, she kept her own place while living with Brad and Vicki, so she has sanctuary when things go south as a well as a place to display her collection of skulls and corpses. Pretty sick stuff, if you think about it, it’s too bad Giron doesn’t make any effort to make Abby any more interesting than a normal city girl in her 20’s (obsessed with her body, drugs, and dancing) who occasionally murders people and keeps their bodies around for her strange menagerie.
Throughout the book Abby’s interest in regular customer Jimmy becomes more and more dangerous, and it’s pretty clear it’s not going to end well. She makes a habit of breaking into his apartment when he’s away, stealing his underwear and linen, masturbating on his bed, then acting like nothing’s out of the ordinary when she sees him at work. The problem with this plotline, which is the bulk of the story, is that it just doesn’t resonate as anything other than the mad ramblings of someone who’s obviously batshit insane. How much of her recounting of what goes on can even be relied on as being fact when you take that into consideration?
If the capsulated reviews of Giron’s previous works at the front of the book are any indication, she’s actually a very talented writer in her own right, which does occasionally does show through the dull goings-on of Mistress of the Dark, specifically in some of Abby’s dream sequences. For the most part, however, the book comes off as an attempt by someone with little to no skill for storytelling to recount a tale that’s supposed to both titillate and horrify at the same time. Unfortunately, much like the similar works of Edward Lee, after the first few illicit descriptions of lesbian sex and dismembering, it fails to do either.
The long and short of it is this; imagine if Bret Easton Ellis wrote American Psycho without any social satire and no grasp of characterization, and you’re pretty close to what Mistress of the Dark is like. If Abby had come off in the least bit sympathetic it might have been more effective, but throughout she just seems like a typical whinny, confused 20something who just happens to be more dangerous than most. Do yourself a favor and seek out some of Giron’s earlier work, I’m sure it’s far more interesting.
1 out of 5
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