“Trixie loathed her penis.” That shocking revelation begins the emotional and personally horrifying quest for self-realization in a truly messed up world.
Secrets of the Weird has been likened to the David Lynch’s groundbreaking series Twin Peaks, but only if horror master Clive Barker and dark fantasist Neil Gaiman had teamed up to create that iconic 90s cultural masterpiece.
It’s here, within the dark tapestry of Sweetville, where a new designer drug offers the enticing yet dangerous promise of salvation through physical transformation as it makes the rounds of the community of club kids, neo-Nazis, drag queens, prostitutes and punks who populate the city’s sin-drenched streets. Its chewable hearts and candied lips threaten to change the lives of those in the city’s underground in terrible ways. And on her seemingly herculean struggle to once and for all become the woman she was born to be, Trixie is the ideal candidate to accept its treacherous bargain.
With Sweet Candy poised to ignite the tenuous powder keg that is life, love and lust in Sweetville, could the arrival of the mysterious back-alley surgeon Julius Kast and his cult of peculiar specters be the final spark that lights the fuse?
Take an unforgettable journey with Trixie and a cast of outsiders in Secrets of the Weird, a novel that’s equal parts irreverent social commentary, dark fantasy and horrifying reality for a counterculture society where frequently dangerous, often deviant and always dark secrets will be revealed.
Proudly presented by Grey Matter Press, the multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominated independent publisher.
Chad Stroup’s novel, Secrets of the Weird is a piece of bizarro fiction that leaves me with more questions than answers. That’s not to say the book is bad by any means; I just feel that it does not live up to its full potential. Sweetville is a decidedly dark setting, with its own underground that we as readers get a brief glimpse of and nothing more. It’s as if Stroup teases us.
What I loved: the dynamic cast of characters Stroup creates. His ability to write lifelike and engaging characters is astounding. The main character, Trixie, is so real in her struggles that I imagine she’s quite relatable for several people. Her trek to being a woman is filled with bump after bump, and yet she still finds a reason to carry on, to seek her own happiness. In fact, much of this book focuses on her journey to self-acceptance, culminating in a beautiful metamorphosis. Other characters are equally fleshed out, but in ways that make my stomach turn. For instance, Cypress and the Angelghoul are despicable. Were either character to perish, I’d be fine. But its these anti-heroes that open up a lot of unanswered questions – if they can be called that.
First, there’s the Withering Wyldes. A creature whose purpose is to convert others into joining their cult like organization. Their history is explained, and they consistently show up throughout the book, but after a few chapters in which a linguist tries to understand their method of communication, they become background noise. The Angelghoul’s quest for enlightenment goes uncompleted. Trixie’s boyfriend fades away into nothing. And finally, Cypress’s threats seem to… well, not come to fruition.
The book is most definitely a fun read, but with those plot issues it falls short of a five skull rating for me. I’ll have to give it three.