Drawing Blood

Poppy Z. Brite
Dell Publishing

Missing Mile, North Carolina, in the summer of 1972 was scarcely more than a wide spot in the road.

In the house on Violin Road he found the bodies of his brother, his mother, and the man who killed them both – his father.  From the house on Violin Road, in Missing Mile, North Carolina, Trevor Mcgee ran for his sanity and his soul, after his famous cartoonist father had exploded inexplicably into murder and suicide. Now Trevor is back.  In the company of a New Orleans computer hacker on the run from the law, Trevor has returned to face the ghosts that still live on Violin Road, to find the demons that drove his father to murder his family – and worse, to spare one of his sons… But as Trevor begins to draw his own cartoon strip, as he loses himself in a haze of lines and art and thoughts of the past, the haunting begins.  Trevor and his lover plunge into a cyber-maze of cartoons, ghosts, and terror that will lead either to understanding – true understanding – or to a blood-raining repetition of the past…

This second novel by Poppy Z. Brite, released in 1993, Drawing Blood is very much a companion piece to the previous novel, Lost Sous, in that characters and settings found in Lost Souls are part of the story here, though in a more self-contained story rather than a direct sequel.  Something I found rather nifty, revisiting the Sacred Yew and its rather colorful denizens that populate the small part of Miracle Mile, North Carolina, where the majority of the story takes place.

In Drawing Blood, the supernatural elements of this horror tale are almost an afterthought; the haunted house featured takes a back seat in favor of setting a rather thick and palpable atmosphere and establishing the characters in a way that you can only find in good Southern Gothic style storytelling.  Poppy Z. Brite is really less Anne Rice and more Flannery O’Connor, had Flannery O’Connor been into the underground music scenes of the 80s and 90s with a tremendous alternative streak.

The story in Drawing Blood flowed pretty well, the world contained coming to vivid life effortlessly, and I once again found myself finishing up the tale a bit sooner than expected. The ending could have been a lot less, shall we say, saccharine and optimistic.  And the overabundance of rather graphic sexual depictions was not really needed, methinks.  For the most part, though, Drawing Blood was a decently dark Southern Gothic tale, proving that Ms. Brite could write more than just vampire tales.