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4.3 out of 5 stars
lost souls
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on December 1, 2003
For a long time I had almost given up on finding a writer as good as Anne Rice. Setting her work as a standard made the quest for interesting and inspiring literature virtually impossible. Having read everything Rice had written, I floated on a sea of insipid and rather tame books for about a year, until I found this book, and I have to say, it has knocked Anne Rice firmly into second place. It's not often you find a book that made me feel the way this one felt. It was like coming home. I'm ordering the rest of her books right now.
The characters are fantastic, you fall in love and loathe them all at the same time. The story is rich and sometimes poignant, it has kept me thinking since I read it. I half wish I'd never read it so I could read it again and feel that wonderful feeling of discovery and empathy. It allows you to feel things and embrace ideas most books would edge around and hint at. It's a wild, beautiful, sexy and exhilarating read. If you haven't read it, I'm jealous. Get it now, and be ready to fall in love.
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Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite's first novel, may be shockingly perverse to those not already immersed in the darker waters of fiction and life, but with its lurid omnisexuality wrapped in a blood-encased poultice of horror, it stands as a mesmerizing achievement, lending ever newer blood to the world of vampirology. While some may chide Brite's vampires for being so awfully unlike the debonair charmer Count Dracula or even the grossly disfigured Nosferatu, herein actually lies the strength of the novel. In Brite's world, good and evil do not exist, and if they do, they are oftentimes quite difficult to tell apart. There is not one character in this entire novel who is even within earshot of the bells of Normality, no one whom in all truth could be called a hero in the traditional sense. This is a world encased in darkness; even the sunlight filters through halfheartedly, as if it realizes it is just fooling itself when it pretends it can wash away the darkness with its feeble rays of light. The characters are exquisite yet deeply tainted, some by blood, some by drink and drugs, and some by the shiftier shadows that like to entomb the mind of man insidiously and secretly.
If nothing else, one cannot say these characters are forgettable. We first meet Christian, a centuries-old vampire running a bar in New Orleans. One Mardi Gras night, a trio of his brethren come into the bar and entrance him with their modern ways of dalliance, unrestrained pleasure-seeking, and vitality. Christian is both literally and figuratively cold and dead inside, but the vampire trio are electric and unrestrained. Twig and Molochai are almost childlike in their recklessness, but Zilla is something special. His mysterious chartreuse-enlivened eyes do all but breathe fire through their entrancingly hypnotic gazes. A young girl in the bar that night falls under Zilla's spell, and many months after Zilla and his friends have left New Orleans, a baby is born. The baby grows up in Maryland, knowing he is different from everyone else; his name is Nothing, and at fifteen he sets off on a journey of self-discovery. His first destination is Missing Mile, North Carolina, home of the underground musical group Lost Souls?, but he meets up, as if by fate, with Zilla's band of marauding vampires and finds the family he has been aching for all his life. He and Zilla share their bodies as well as their feasts of blood, and Nothing has little trouble adjusting to the life he knows he was born to lead; he is a vampire. Steve and Ghost, the members of Lost Souls?, enter the picture because of Nothing's strong identification with their music. Ghost is the most remarkable character in the novel, a young man blessed with a gift of seeing into the minds of others, both alive and dead; his gift can be a curse at times, though, because he knows the pain of everyone. Steve is his best friend, a perpetual drunk with a bad temper that caused him to lose the one girl he had ever loved. All the roads of each character meet in Missing Mile, and the events and tragedies set in motion lead the reader from there back to New Orleans, ending in a climax I found remarkably well done.
Poppy Z. Brite is something of an acquired taste. The sexuality of her characters is strikingly extreme, and Zilla's band of vampires are particularly uncaring in their choice of partners; the life essence can be found in a fluid other than blood, and these creatures of the night delight in sharing themselves with each other as they race through life on a perpetual search for kicks. Drug abuse runs rampant among everyone in these pages, and the act of rape is consigned to one of those who comes closest to being a good guy. As disturbing as the intense erotic aspect of Brite's writing may be, however, it lies at the core of her vampiric creations. Zilla and his gang have no morals, no code of honor, no feelings whatsoever; there is not a trace of immorality found among them because they are completely amoral. Brite raises the world of vampirism out of its traditional trappings, and therein lies the magic that sets Brite apart as a shockingly new, amazingly effective voice in modern horror.
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on May 24, 2003
Poppy Z Brite, the amazing Poppy Z Brite, wrote yet another amazing book, Lost Souls. Vampires, suave and scandalous, are the main characters of this book, along with two people of a different race, humans. This book smells of blood and altars, and Poppy's humid-New-Orleans-diction is truly a diamond in the ruff of other corny vampire novels. Nothing, the young teen with RIT died hair, feels like most teens, hoping that somehow he was adopted and has no relation to his parents. But his yearning for different birthparents came true when he found a note proving his 'parents' weren't blood parents. He ran away and coincidence turned to fate when he found his true father, a beautiful vampire named Zillah with chartreuse green eyes, along with two other vampires, mirror images of each other, Molochia and Twig. Everything in the book ties together, from drinking to the late Dylan Thomas, or red-x-voodoo-queens, and witches. Bauhaus music floods this book, serenading along with the Lost Souls? band of Ghost and Steve. Lost Souls is my favorite Poppy Z Brite book, along with her short story in that water erotica book (mainly because the pages of it are waterproof).I love it because of its wonderful, beautiful, horrifying bliss.
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on September 1, 2002
Lost Souls is my favorite vampire horror. It is more terrifying than Salem's Lot and definitely more alluring and bewitching than Anne Rice's Vampire Series. Lost Souls was written in 1992 but till today still transcends most contemporary horros in terms of plot and characters. Lost Souls shines with its own unique emotional intensity that most contemporary horrors sadly lack. Brite's Vampires are unique personalities and she did such a brilliant job describing and justifying their lusts that I sympathize with them - haunted Christian, amoral Zillah, mindless Molochai and Twig and of course Nothing who has to learn to live with his aloneness among his kind. I was hoping for a better ending for Nothing but I guess Brite knows best. Ghost is of course my favorite character and I seldom have any in horrors. I will remember Ghost because of his love for Steve, his care for Nothing and Anne and his genuine goodness and vulnerability. I only with there is more of Lost Souls but one is always wistful when a book is as great as Lost Souls... Lost Souls will remain my favorite as long as I continue to read...
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on August 7, 2002
Sometimes a book hits you so hard that you don't have words to describe the emotions it evoked. Lost Souls, poppy Z Brite's first novel, is definitely one of those books.
We are given three sets of main characters. The first is the trio of vampires, Molochai, Twig and Zillah. The are dirty, redneck vampires, rough and rotten. The second charter, who can't really be a set all on his own, is Nothing. He is Zillah's baby, but they don't know that when they become lovers. The third set of characters is the Missing Mile Crew, Steve, Ghost, and Ann. Ghost has ESP in a very big way. Unfortunately he finds that he can't help everyone. Sometimes he can only feel their pain and turn from it before it swallows him too.
I don't care what anyone says about Steve. he wasn't a bad guy. he went too heavy on the drinking and that caused him some problems, but he wasn't a villain like some other reviewers *coughs* *one star hinted. Sure, he raped Ann, but the sad part was that he still loved, he tried to make things better.
The story is fairly twisted and you have to be in a sort of dark mind set to read it, but you don't have to be a goth. you also don't have to be a social outcast. if you like a book with characters you can love and feel for, or if you liked something with twisted, dark romance, or just something different, I defiantly recommend this.
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on April 21, 2002
How should I begin...the most complex character that I could find in Lost Souls was a tie between Nothing and Ghost. Ghost seemed to be on a plane all his own when it came to be good and evil. Ghost just seemed to be there to help anyone who came asking. He always looked for a way to make anyone else's life better no matter the cost to himself. I think he shows this by making the band Lost Souls? with Steve, and creating songs that anyone who's just feeling down on the world could listen to and feel like they've just made another friend. Nothing was one of those kids, and wound up hearing Lost Souls? songs. Nothing had the courage though to go out and find Ghost. Nothing wasn't really into being evil, but because of Zillah, he was sort of forced into situations that involved him taking people's lives. Altogether, I'd say this book is one of a kind, Brite is able to suck your soul into this book, and make you go through every emotion. Few times do I find a book that I can't stop reading, but this one made the number one book on that list. didn't matter what I was doing, I had this book with me at all times.
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on March 18, 2002
Ms. Brite describes the surroundings and the strange smells of the world so clearly that you could practically feel the things she describes. Her style of writing is unique and exquisite.
I'd bought Lost Souls after reading Drawing Blood and when I knew so well that my Monthly tests were coming, I did the biggest mistake - I opened the book and read the first page. Then, it was all pure torture. I couldn't put the book down for even a minute no matter how much I'd tried to convince myself that my tests were just the following week! So there I was, struggling - half studying and half reading the book. I'd read lots of books by other writers and it was very simple for me to put them down, for usually, studying is more important to me. I finished Lost Souls in one day, for the fact that I didn't get anything I'd studied into my head. I really felt drawn into the book. It felt as if you're IN the story, invinsible, and watching the characters. Some parts even made my eyes brim with tears. Especially Steve's undying love for Ann. Ann just doesn't deserve it, it seems. This book is probably about souls which are struggling to keep themselves sane and at the same time experience the sensualness and perfectness of life. It is a very good book - an excellent masterpiece by Ms. Brite and it ranks five times higher than Drawing Blood. I highly recommend this book.
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on March 2, 2002
The story has a dark theme. Violence and death and sex in weird constellations (not as graphic as to insult, but you do have to be fairly tolerant not to be disgusted). The characters feel at home in dark dead-end sub-cultures, self destruction seems to be part of the story. But I guess that's normal in vampire stories (I'm not really into them).
The story is lightened by two remarkable characters, the musician Ghost who has a sense for the supernatural and Nothing, a screwed up, lonely kid and vampire apprentice. They're believable even though they're set in a strange world; I found myself rooting for both of them. What attracted me was the portrayal of this dark world Nothing and his (vampire) friends move through and Ghost's tries to rescue Nothing from it. The relationship Ghost/Nothing is done nicely and brought to a neat conclusion. The whole story is actually carried by these two characters.
It's also amazing how the author managed to create such a dark setting and make it appear a perfectly normal place to live in (at least as long as the book lasts - then you wake up in the real world again, thank goodness)
Definitely an interesting read. It does feel very modern to me, as another reviewer said. No cobwebs, no garlic, no wooden stakes. There's cars and hitchhiking and (a single) gun instead.
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on November 14, 2001
"Lost Souls" is the book that spoiled me. After reading it, I didn't think I would ever again find a story so well-imagined, so beautifully crafted. In this tale of vampires, it would've been so easy to scrawl out a hackneyed "bite me, drain me, toss my body in the gutter" plot, but Poppy and her muse must have screamed "No way!" The narrative is dripping with sensory information -- sights, sounds, smells, everything Poppy always uses to take the readers where she wants them to go. The characters aren't lifelike, they're LARGER than life. They drag you alongside them and make you sympathize with them, love them, hate them, feel their own loves and their own hates. Steve's is an earthy, often ill-humored presence. His bandmate Ghost is enigmatic and beautiful in his eccentricities. The vampiric trio of Molochai, Twig and Zillah are a collective dark force, and every time they enter a scene you can't help but to murmur "uh-oh."
This story is tightly woven. Everything's there on the page because it needs to be. There is nothing overdone, and no apologies made. Poppy has a flair for tailoring her signature violence and male homoeroticism into her backdrops, turning out a world that's so surreal, yet smacks of normalcy. That flair is no less evident in "Lost Souls."
I read a variety of fiction, and I have yet to encounter anything that even approaches the soul-stirring caliber of this book in ANY genre. I was let down at the end, not because it was a bad story, but because it was an AMAZING story, and it was over. I've read some decent books since I finished "Lost Souls," but none have been as worthy of adoration.
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on July 8, 2001
If you're a fan of horror novels--even the bad ones which you can't really defend to anyone who doesn't "get" them--then you like it when a really good one like this comes along, one you can recommend even to your less-than-genre-inclined friends.
Poppy Z. Brite's "Lost Souls" is a great horror novel and a great piece of writing, period. On the surface, Brite's story of modern-day young-but-old nomadic vampires glistens with wit, smart writing, vivid imagery, taught, sexually-charged language, and interesting, appealing characters.
What makes "Lost Souls" a great book is that when you sink your teeth under its pretty surface, you find a rich vein of pulsing life ready to nourish you. "Lost Souls" is a pleasure to read, certainly if you're a horror fan, but even if you're not one.
Poppy Z. Brite writes in this novel about disaffected youth who ache for some real connection to the world around them. They happen to either be vampires or have friends who are. But really, she's writing about us all. Everyone knows the desire for a belief in magic, the hunger to feel the rich flow of life in your veins. If you were ever a kid, you know about magic. You might have forgotten what it means to you, or why it's important. The more intangible it is, the more important it seems to be to remember. There are many people in the world who have willingly forgotten. Any one of us at times is like the characters in this book: young-but-old because we have felt the ever-shifting tide of faith go out on us, leaving us at least temporarily high and dry. "Lost Souls" captures the human thirst for life beautifully.
If you enjoy this novel, I highly recommend George A. Romero's brilliant late-seventies vampire film, "Martin"--one truly excellent horror film that deals with many of the same issues as this novel.
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