Epstein Dorian is at loose ends. His wife is missing. His mother’s a vampire. His teenage daughter’s a basket case. He spends all of his time at home watching documentaries about gruesome murders and serial killers. His sexuality is confused. He entertains libidinous thoughts about his mother, as well as his wife and girlfriend, and at one point even convinces a young male street beggar to perform oral sex on him for money.
Throughout the book, Epstein attempts to connect in some kind of real way with both the men and women he encounters, all for naught. Nobody makes sense to him. He finds no comfort in others. He’s at continual odds with the world he lives in. At one point he thinks:
I hate sex. Little girls disturb me. Boobs might as well be cannonballs … You position yourself for great things, but end up a bum on the toilet jerking off into your daughter’s underwear. Biting my nails is a great refuge.
The only thing that makes Epstein Dorian relatable at all is his fatherly concern for his 13-year-old daughter, Sylvia. Even after he believes his daughter may have come back from the dead as some kind of zombie, he wants to help her. Unfortunately, his parental concern is tainted by his erotic fantasies about her.
Although peopled with blood-sucking vampires, the real horror story in The Blood Poetry is the predatory nature of its families and institutions. In one hilarious development in the story, Epstein’s mother, Olivia, becomes a member of the Pentecostal Vampires. The Pentecostals are a Christian sect. They believe in the Bible and Jesus Christ, but the church’s preachers are vampires who live on the blood of the congregation. Communion for the Pentecostal Vampires consists of non-vampire members of the church getting hooked up to I.V.’s. Blood donation to the church’s “elders” is a sacrament.
By the time you get to the Pentecostals, you will likely have realized that The Blood Poetry is as much social satire as horror. There’s a scene at a restaurant that could have been written by P.E.T.A.; on the menu is a Meat Spigot, and Oozing Chunks with Exclamation Sauce.
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez has some great one-liners in this book, but his sense of humor is often too gruesome to be laugh-out-loud funny. His sex scenes are too disturbing to be erotic. His food scenes are too gross to be appetizing. His human relationship scenes are too sick to be heartwarming.
At the Pentecostal church, one of the elders is named Fester, a clear tip of the hat to the Addams Family, and this book has a bit of the Addams Family feel—a mix of the Cleavers and ewwwww … but with a lot more violence. Not for the average Twilight fan.