Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Let Me Die a Woman by Alan Kelly

Blending ‘50s pulp novel sensibilities with modern potty-mouthed wit and characters pulled from a John Waters film with a cybergoth twist, Let Me Die A Woman is a kick ass debut from Irish author Alan Kelly!

The novel opens with a rather innocuous scarecrow festival in a small town…or so it seems. Before long, the scarecrows set their button eyes on the inhabitants of the small town and massacre everyone in sight. The scarecrows, who are actually beings from another plane, have much more far-reaching plans than slaughtering a whole town, though…

Years later, horror journalist extraordinaire Bunny Flask is fired by the sleazy owner of her beloved Blood Rag Magazine and replaced by rival Alice Fiend. Seething with resentment and seeking revenge, Bunny decides to confront Alice but uncovers a horrific plot to destroy the human race in the process.

Let me Die A Woman is pulp fiction paradise! It is a gritty and gory tale of femme fatales, hellacious heroines, malevolent males and apocalyptic action that really rocked my socks off! It may be a short 109 pages, but every single one of those pages packs a wallop. It is extremely fast-paced, and once I picked it up I read the whole thing in one sitting because I didn’t want to put it down.

Given the skill of writing, it’s hard to imagine LMDAW is author Alan Kelly’s debut novel. His voice is one of a seasoned storyteller and he unfolds the violent and heated plot in such a way that holds you enraptured the entire length of the book. Kelly describes everything so vividly that the novel comes to life in your head and it feels like you are reading/watching an exploitation-style ‘50s B-movie, complete with monsters, aliens, gender-bending characters, chainsaws, strong women, outrageous dialogue and plenty of violence! In homage to exploitation/horror films of the past, Kelly even names several chapters after recognizable films, including Sorry, Wrong Number, Shivers, Female Trouble, Razor Blade Smile and Bad Girls Go to Hell, among others!

The characters are all a lively bunch, their colorful personalities taking cues from real-life horror queens like The Chainsaw Mafia founder Shannon Lark (an obvious inspiration for the chainsaw-wielding BFF of Bunny Flask) and Rue Morgue’s former editor, Jovanka Vuckovic (Alice Fiend’s vivid red hair being a reference to her). Kelly writes them all whip-smart, independent and hell-on-wheels.

Let Me Die A Woman is a no-holds-barred and over-the-top love letter to cult films in all their kitschy glory. With inspirations from grindhouse, exploitation, sci-fi and horror genres Kelly’s debut has a manic energy and originality that seems unrivaled within current genre offerings and comes highly recommended from yours truly.

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