December 10, 2010

Rabid Reads: "Lucky Stiff" by Tonia Brown

Lucky Stiff: Memoirs of an Undead Lover
by Tonia Brown
Library of the Living Dead Press (2010)
233 pages
ISBN 1452833974

Even though I had this book on my wish list after hearing about it through the Funky Werepig podcast, and managed to win a copy through, I still wasn't sure quite what to expect when I sat down to read it. I've read some zombie fiction, and enjoyed most of it, and I've read some erotica--and enjoyed a fair amount of that too--but I've never read a book where the two genres meet. Now I have.

Peter Lyles is your average college student, although a bit gifted for his age by entering college life a year or two early, but all that is over when he accidentally overdoses on what he thinks are sleeping pills. Turns out their a party drug. Also turns out he dies. His buddies panic, and the best plan they can come up with to cover their asses is to take Peter's corpse to a witchy woman whom one of the boys used to frequent as a prostitute. Classy. Well, turns out she's pretty gifted--drop dead gorgeous despite her years and magically potent through sexual rituals. How's that for erotica?

As it stands though, I wouldn't describe this as erotic horror so much as erotic fantasy. There are a couple of gruesome moments in the book, but my preconception of a Romero-esque zombie parading around as a gigolo was way off base. It's established fairly early that Peter has a natural gift in the dark arts, and under the tutelage of his lover/mentor/protector Madam Sangrail he learns how to use his magical gifts to feign an appearance that's a little more human. Plus, he feeds not on the flesh of the living--well, he kind of feeds on the flesh--but on the orgasms of those he has sex with. There's a radiance emitted that only he can sense and absorbs that in order to maintain himself, though a literal hunger for flesh lingers under the surface.

The novel is presented as a first-hand account from Peter about his life after death. The first half of the book focuses on his years with Madam Sangrail, and on its own that could have been the entire novel, but the second half of the book gives his accounts of the years after he leaves her and makes his way through the world. The excitement picks up a measure through the second half of the novel, as Peter fucks his way around the world, and tries to avoid being killed along the way--or kill anyone himself for that matter.

The book's an interesting mix of fantasy, comedy, and erotica. And like I said, the horror elements aren't as prevalent as I'd expected. I get the feeling that a lot of the titillation would have been sabotaged if there'd been a stronger element of gore. Then again, there's probably a niche market for something like that. For the rest of us, Tonia Brown has us covered.