Feast by author Thomas S Flowers is a fun tale about vengeance and retribution with a strong social narrative on the structures of human sexuality and gender identity. Two rival families are corrupted by the misdeeds of their children, which inadvertently leads to a piece of literature that tries to quantity and equalise social injustice. Unfortunately, this is where Feast falls and breaks its beautifully structured back. The once-important narrative is diluted by oddly placed POV’s and bizarre allusions to Greek mythology.
The transgender son of Titus Fleming, Lavinia, becomes an integral part of the plot during the opening act, but this character – much like the rest – loses steam halfway into the novel. Although the character doesn’t directly refer to herself as a Trans male-to-female, I wished the author could have used she instead of he. It feels outmoded and doesn’t quite make sense. Yes, the character refuses to be labeled, but Lavinia had already undergone a large portion of the gender reassignment surgery.
And it is here where I believe the author lost a powerful part of the social commentary. Homophobic injustice should have been applied with more forethought, but the story mucked about in a stereotypical reverie. Besides the gaping holes in the narrative structure, Feast was also marred by punctuation and spelling mistakes. This technical oversight turned the novel into an exasperated bullet train that needed to get out of the station as quickly as possible.
On a more positive note, Flowers has a way with prose that makes the hair on my arms stand on end. Case in point:
“Those dreams felt poisoned by her own reflection in the bloomed glass. Her hideous self now manifested on the outside, or so she believed.”
“She had walked him hand in hand many years ago now down the pathway where the pines stood like towering sentinels guarding some ancient realm humanity had long forgotten how to converse with.”
Haunting. Expressive. Poetic. Enthralling.
Feast takes an interesting turn pre-climax, fumbles around during the finale, and stutters like a burning Volkswagen post-denouement. The novel will make you think twice about social injustice and personal greed. As for a work of horror art? Well, it’s more Andy Warhol than Vermeer.
3 out of 5
Reviewed by Renier Palland