Monica J. O’Rourke and Wrath James White ‘Poisoning Eros’ Review
Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Monica J. O’Rourke and Wrath James White are two of the biggest names in modern extreme horror. O’Rourke and White are known for telling tales from different perspectives than that of the largely white male dominated author corps. While neither caters to gender or ethnic stereotypes, their prose represent two seldom heard voices in the genre: women and African Americans. As a result, many more well-known writers, such as Poppy Z. Brite and Jack Ketchum, have come to sing their praises.
Poisoning Eros tells the story of Gloria, a washed up porn actress living with AIDS and a severe drug addiction. Gloria has fallen on hard times. She now stars in bestiality films to make enough money to survive. It wasn’t always like this. At one point in her career, she had it all. She was in demand, loved by the porn industry, partnered with a devoted husband, and even had a baby on the way. Poor decisions took these things from her.
However, as bad as Gloria’s life might be, things get much worse when she meets the demon known as Bill Vlad. Vlad likes to make deals. Before Gloria knows it, she is whisked away to hell to be a plaything. There she will suffer through things even worse than intercourse with all of God’s creatures.
Life was cruel to Gloria, but was the product of her own bad decisions. Now death will be equally as cruel, but can Gloria make the hard choices she failed to make in life? Maybe or maybe not. Maybe Gloria decides: if you can’t beat them, join them. One thing is for sure, hell will never be the same.
Poisoning Eros is divided into two chapters, each with multiple parts. Chapter I follows Gloria’s deal with Bill Vlad, her journey through hell, escape, and ultimately her rejection of heaven. Chapter II documents her return to hell and earth, a new deal, the cult of Gloria, and the ultimate conquest. Both could serve as standalone stories with Chapter I being the stronger of the two.
Each is a condemnation of the Judeo-Christian system, but plot is secondary in this novel. Many of the sex and torture scenes are much longer than the periods of dialogue and suspense. Make no mistake, this book was written to shock, disgust, and offend the reader. O’Rourke and White deliver in spades. At points, they may even surpass Edward Lee and Ryan Harding in their visceral gut-wrenching descriptions.
The problems come in that Poisoning Eros reads as a book written by two separate authors. Plot -what little exists- and tone shift wildly from section to section. The bulk of the story in Chapter II comes in the last sixteen pages of the narrative and ends with one of the most lackluster conclusions imaginable.
Both O’Rourke and White have written better stories tackling similar themes. Poisoning Eros is neither elegant nor profound. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. There is a market for the most extreme of the extreme. This is one of those novels. Read if you dare.
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