Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 24, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Horror, Paranormal
Do you have a blood fetish? If yes, then I have the perfect book recommendation for you! (Don’t worry having a blood kink is not a prerequisite for enjoying this story) Drawing Blood, by Poppy Z. Brite, is a great, spooky novel featuring queer characters. One night in Missing Mile, North Carolina, Trevor McGee’s father murders Trevor’s mother and little brother before killing himself. Now, as an adult, Trevor is still tortured by the unanswered question: Why did his father let him live on that tragic night? Trevor has followed in his deceased father’s footsteps, working as a cartoonist. Seeking answers from his childhood, Trevor returns to Missing Mile, staying in his family’s abandoned home. Soon after arriving he he meets Zach, a cyber-criminal from New Orleans, who is on the run from authorities. Zach is bisexual and frequently enjoys casual sex but has never formed a deep romantic connection. But upon meeting, the two men quickly form a passionate connection and face the sinister forces that haunt Trevor’s childhood home. I selected this book because I saw it featured on multiple lists for queer horror recommendations. I enjoyed reading Drawing Blood, even if I was caught off guard by all the smut.
Drawing Blood is best classified as a psychological horror novel. Many of the scares and horror scenes involve visions and characters’ internal struggles. The book does a great job of maintaining a dark atmosphere throughout. As I mentioned there is a lot of blood in this book, especially in the sex scenes. The spicy scenes would’ve had me blushing if it wasn’t for all the blood. All the blood made me queasy, but no judgment if you’re into that 😉. I believe the author used blood as a symbol of Trevor’s connection to his father. He has inherited his dad’s artistic talent for drawing, and he fears he will also inherit his dad’s violent, murderous nature. The blood, which is only heavily featured in scenes inside of Trevor’s family home, is a manifestation of the father-son connection. I would not classify this as only a horror novel. The romance and internet crime thriller aspects take up a sizable chunk of the pages. I still really enjoyed the story, but if you are looking for a more purely-horror novel, this might not be the right book for you.
I loved that this book features multiple queer characters. There are more beyond just Zach and Trevor. And while the book has plenty of drama and conflict, none of the adversity characters face relates to their sexuality. While this is probably not realistic for a small town in North Carolina in the ‘90s, it is refreshing to slip into a world where homophobia does not exist. This reminds me of the excellent show Schitt’s Creek (different genre, but I highly recommend). The settings in the novel are very immersive. Brite does an excellent job of describing the settings of New Orleans and Missing Mile. I was not surprised to learn that Poppy Brite lives in New Orleans. Normally I roll my eyes when two characters fall in love at first sight and exchange “I love yous” just days after meeting. But with Trevor and Zach I was not bothered. Beyond my obvious bias for queer relationships, there is great character development for both Trevor and Zach. They help each other become unstuck from their respective struggles, which is very cute and wholesome. While this book was published in 1993 (my birth year!), the writing and story do not feel dated. Descriptions of large cellular phones and the internet, in its early days, were charming.
If you like your scares bloody and mixed with smut you should give this book a try. Reading about LGBTQ characters facing conflicts not related to their queerness is refreshing.
Trigger Warnings: Lots of blood-filled gay sex, Alcoholism, Murder, Recreational Drugs