With the pulsing darkness pressing in from a broken city, my sexfully decorated apartment is lit only by my computer screen. I tap away dramatically at my old, silky, chrome laptop I bought in 2007. My chocolate, coffee, roundish shaped eyes stared erotically at the glowing screen of my medium. Sensually, I settled myself in to write exposition upon exposition, littering it with as many erotic synonyms possible in order to fool people into thinking I’ve written a book.
At least, that would be the case if I was Dicey Grenor. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. However, after my brain gagged it’s way through the first chapter of Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul, (she’s narcoleptic, and her name is Willow! It’s like, a pun, you know?) I’m finding little mercy to deliver. At least Grenor agrees; in her dedication she thanks her parents, and hopes they never read this book. If only we should have all been so lucky.
‘I’ve brought this on myself’ I think, as I read such passages as:
“The white cloth looked like puddles with overflowing water glowing against the black coffin and black floor. My almond-shaped eyes remained closed while I danced to the music and writhed on the floor, allowing my hands to explore first my plump breast, then my flat tummy, and lastly, my trimmed bush.”
There in all her glory is “Sleepy Willow”, a burlesque performer at a fetish club called Hades who suffers from narcolepsy. Oh, and also, she’s a vampire. She was turned two years prior to the series in an attempt to cure her disorder; it didn’t work. However, in the ceremony, a vampire named Max became her maistre by literally ripping her heart out and keeping in in a jar. In some vaguely explained way, this causes Willow to be vampire married to Max for all eternity; he dies, she dies. She’s bonded-OH MY GOD I GET IT THAT’S THE TITLE!
In this world, vampires are illegal, and are hunted down and killed by a shadowy government agency. Naturally, Willow therefore lays low in order to avoid detection.
Just kidding! She has a nightly performance where she repeatedly stabs and mutilates herself on stage for necrophiliacs. ( I suppose a low profile midnight shift at the local Walmart wouldn’t have averaged four stars on Goodreads) She lies and tells her co-workers that she uses props and fake blood, and even has a fake kit to show if anyone asks.(FORSHADOWING!) She’s a baptist who strictly follows the ten commandments, and by strictly, I mean she knows of them. Oh, and also there are were-creatures and ghosts and witches.
When I asked my friend WD to find a bad, over the top vampire novel to review, I was in every way satisfied when she presented this to me on kindle. I felt my glee overflow, like water overflowing from puddles or something equally asinine. Then there is the writing style itself. Here’s a perfect example:
“I loved that they loved my performance. Made the pain worthwhile. Goes to show my aunt had been right about performing arts being my calling.That I should utilize my gifts regardless of what folks like my parents said. Too bad she would never see me onstage since she’d died several years ago falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. She’d had narcolepsy also.”
I feel like there’s a lot of something missing there, or maybe too much of something. Either way, after reading that passage my brain feels like someone has flattened it out like flour with a rolling pin. But I’ve digressed.
There are many subplots (I’d saw two every other paragraph,) but I suppose the main conflict of the story is Willow wanting to unbind herself from Max; he’s kind of a dick, and has several other vampire brides whose hearts he keeps on shelves. Literally. He wants Willow to come back and live by his side. She hates him, and wants to be free to sleep with other people ; adultery is against the ten commandments. However, by chapter eight she’s made two different men orgasm in the same night.
However, as I continued to read, I found, to my horror, that Willow was growing on me. Reading in the safe darkness of my room, in order to hide my shame, there was something very entertaining and almost endearing about the story. I feel that someone should plan an intervention, or sends out a priest to strap me down for an exorcism, but I can explain: Grenor has written a story which includes every demographic, every subculture you could thing of, with no judgement or any real contemplation by the main character. They just flow calmly by in the story, like feces in the air after you flush the toilet. Willow is a black, baptist woman, her boyfriend is an Israeli billionaire with multiple personality disorder, the club owner Franco is Spanish or something, there’s an Indian witch, (whom the baptist Willow visits for fortune telling. She’s not a consistent woman, our Willow.) and then there’s my favorite: The VET (Vampire Extermination Team) Agent Monroe. He’s introduced at Hades, where he’s investigating Willow, as he’s seen pictures of her nightly performances online and correctly suspects her of being a vampire. Here’s some of their exchange:
” ‘Are you a Vampire, Ms.Willow?’ Monroe sneered.’
‘No. Now, if you have nothing further, I’m beat and need to—‘
‘I’d be happy to schedule a meeting with you at your home. Where is that exactly?’ He pulled out a small flip pad and pen from his jacket pocket and waited”
Later, he has Willow show him the props she uses for her act, (again, she has fake props for just such a case as this,) which he examines. He isn’t buying it, and goes on a bigoted rant where he drops the N bomb, and promising to return and prove she’s the vampire he knows her to be. Then this happen:
“‘And just so you know, if I end up missing, you will have a bull’s-eye on your black head. If you try to get missing, I’ll make sure everyone at this club will be brought up on charges for aiding and abetting your escape’. He dropped my hand, unfolded his walking stick, and left.
I’d be damned. Monroe was blind.”
Ok. Sure. I suppose a blind man could be a racist, I believe in the handicapable. What I find more hilariously confusing is that the prove he had suspecting Willow of vampirism were pictures. How embarrassing would it have been if he showed them to her upside down? What if other VET agents decided to fuck with him and printed him pictures from cuteoverload.com instead? When he left, did he mistakenly walk into a closet?
In the end, Willow finds out about a violent and extensive ceremony to unbind herself from her maistre, and the book ends with Max appearing to take her away and –OH GOD SHE’S MAKING IT A SERIES.
Yes, Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul is a bit ridiculous. It’s never going to be win a Pulitzer prize for fiction. Hell, it wouldn’t even be given an A in any respectable English class. However, the all inclusion, the steering away of vampires from exclusively Anglo-Saxon sex gods to average Joe’s of every color of the rainbow is something I can grudgingly admire.
Oh, tots forgot; her ex is murdered by some Chinese lady and he may or may not start haunting Willow as a ghost. I’m not sure what that’s about, and neither is the author, but, well, it happened.
Other all: 6/10, would bang again.