lazarous heartPoppy Z. Brite
Harper Collins
1998

Jared Poe has been executed for the murder of his boyfriend, a murder he didn’t commit. Brought back to life by the mystical Bird of Vengeance, Jared becomes The Crow. And with the help of the sister of his murdered lover, he searches the dark underbelly of New Orleans for the real murderer, a human monster with a grizzly agenda all his own…

If you’re a fan of the J. O’Barr created Crow urban mythos, this would be considered required reading. Taken on its own as a stand-alone story, The Lazarus Heart is still a potent, darkly written yarn that satisfies. This, I admit, being the only Poppy Z. Brite story I’ve read (and yes, I bought it because of its tie-in to The Crow franchise), her style appealed to me. She seems to be an anti-Anne Rice of the genre; in The Lazarus Heart, Brite weaves a dark, atmospheric tapestry, drawing on elements of the Gothic underground subculture, the run-down setting of New Orleans at night, sado-masichism, artistic expression, and supernatural vengeance. All the elements of The Crow formula are here: Lovers are torn apart by death, one is granted a chance at setting the wrong things right, comes back to life guided by The Crow, undead character dons cheesy face decoration on his quest (in this case, it’s a leather bondage mask, a bit of a breath of fresh air from the usual face paint used in the other books, movies and comics), anti-hero loses his power during the confrontation with the nemesis (it’s always that way, like clockwork)…well, there is a twist at the end, but I’m not telling…

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