POETRY REVIEW: “Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls”

Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls By Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca ISBN-13: 978-0982855447 $17.00; 156 pages; February, 2012 Elektrik Milk Bath Press   It’s not very often that I...

Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls

By Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca

ISBN-13: 978-0982855447

$17.00; 156 pages; February, 2012

Elektrik Milk Bath Press

 

It’s not very often that I judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Vampires, Zombies and Wanton Souls, it’s hard not to. Draped in a colorful palette of reds, grays, and blues, DeLuca wraps both the cover and the spine in a woman’s hair, concocting a gentle, yet vicious maelstrom of curls. The female looks off into in the distance, refusing the viewer’s eyes in a seductive glance, eyes wide open, piercing blue, lost in focus. The brushstrokes lead the viewer in, and then push them away, much like Simon’s women between the pages. In a stunning marriage between poetry and art, the two artists not only call to the definition of the feminine, but question its innocence and ferocity. Are these women misunderstood angels? Devils? Or perhaps maybe they are something much, much worse.

What’s most beautiful about this collection is the way that Simon and DeLuca feed off each other’s muse, off each other’s interpretation of the lifeline of their characters. The vampires, the zombies, the wanton souls… Simon and DeLuca don’t just write and paint them. They become them. They devour the girl’s stories, their heartbreaks, their sins, and then they retell their deaths and rebirths with ink and color, metaphor and line.

And it’s frightful what these women have done.

Simon tells the story of the seductress, the victim, the murderer, and DeLuca paints the blood on her face and the circles under her eyes. If you flip through the collection, you’ll meet a flash of color—bright and dull, absent and vibrant—and catch the stares of many a woman wronged, not to mention the wrath of a woman scorned. Simon speaks of love taken to the edge of a cliff, of back-alley sex after the stars go blank. DeLuca siphons souls with the curves and strokes of her girls, hypnotizes men with the full pout of luscious lips. It’s hard to imagine who’s deadlier: the ladies on the page, or the ladies creating them?

Take this collection as a cup of tea, but one mixed with rose petals and poison. There is great beauty here—women who have survived, conquered, thrived—but there is also death, destruction, power. It’s easy to be attracted to danger, especially when she bats her eyes at you, and whispers promises in your ear. It’s hard to walk away from fate, to push past the desire, the need to explore and sate your curiosity. But sometimes the people we want the most, the people we yearn for the deepest, are devils masked in the moonlight, sirens walking the earth. This collection is a warning as much as it is a celebration.

Readers and viewers beware: beauty can kill you, but it can also bring you back.

But as something different. Something darker.

Something with fangs. With cravings.

Something without a soul.

 

Stephanie M. Wytovich

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Stephanie M. Wytovich is a Professor of English by day and a horror writer by night. She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated poetry collections, Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, and An Exorcism of Angels can be found at www.rawdogscreaming.com, and her debut novel, The Eighth, will be out in 2016 from Dark Regions Press. Follow Wytovich at stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.
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