I expected big things from this novel from J. Daniel Stone after really enjoying his novella contribution to Grey Matter Press’ ‘I Can Taste the Blood’ collection. Does he deliver? Yes! In spades too. ‘Blood Kiss’ is a memorable novel bursting with vivid prose, incredible and original characters and enough darkness to cause an eclipse. This book oozes sexuality and is provocative and erotic but not simply for the sake of it. Characters are key here and the dynamics between the four central ones are intense, volatile and believable. At times I was unable to put this book down as Stone dragged me deeper and deeper into a New York art scene where the merging of two different art forms creates something totally new, unique, exciting and sexy. Dorian (Wilde, of course) is a painter, a creator of mainly macabre images. When he becomes acquainted with Tyria (a spoken word poet) through his lover, Leland, a dark relationship develops, the two art forms collide, creating a series of orgasmic shows that viewers will never forget. Relationships are stretched, broken, pulled apart again until the characters are left drained and somewhat broken in one way or another at the books end.
There is some incredible imagery inside the book as Dorian’s paintings come to life, a splattering of Lovecraftian darkness looks to swallow the paintings viewers as they are lured in by Tyria’s words. Tyria’s poetry entries sprinkled throughout the story are dark but elegantly written and really quite beautiful. I loved the development of the story and how our young artists relationships become more and more entwined and complicated, resulting in the shows they put on become increasingly darker, climaxing in a blood-drenched final performance. This performance in particular reminded me of the movie ‘Blade’ where the Vampires are seen dancing inside an underground nightclub and blood suddenly explodes from the sprinkler system.
Ultimately, ‘Blood Kiss’ is a dark book, a drug-fuelled journey through the New York art scene where creativity is king and originality is essential to survival. It is a thoroughly engrossing read and an immersive reading experience thanks to the vividly poetic nature of Stone’s storytelling. One of the most original dark fiction books I have come across in recent time and a truly wonderful piece of work with three-dimensional characters and a thumping metal soundtrack (much to my delight!). Read this book whilst listening to Nine Inch Nails ‘The Downward Spiral’, that’s my advice. Superb.
Pick up a copy of ‘Blood Kiss’ from here.