BOOK REVIEW: DRAG NOIR / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / EDITOR: K.A. LAITY / PUBLISHER: FOX SPIRIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
One of the nice things about the small press is that you tend to find more original and clever ideas amongst them, especially when it comes to anthologies. Fox Spirit Books tend to specialise in seeking out new talent and coming up with bright new themes. Drag Noir blends two things that work so well together it now seems obvious. The grim, gritty and hyper-sexualised noir genre and the glorious world of drag. Both share similar histories, and it’s easy to imagine a top hat and tails wearing Gladys Bentley rubbing shoulders with the characters from The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Both worlds lend themselves to challenging ideas and over the top action, and Drag Noir doesn’t disappoint. Richard Godwin’s Meaning of Skin is a short but sweet tale about forgery and deceit, blending the themes of identity and trust into a neat tale of shattered hearts. Geezer Dyke, by Becky Thacker is a tale of change, age and survival, which weaves a rather charming spell, despite not really going anywhere. Lucky In Cards brings that noir cliché of the gambling table to the fore and is, of course, set in Vegas. It’s a slick story of illusion and expectations, and plays its hand close to its chest all the way to the end.
Other highlights include Kiki Le Shade by Chloe Yates, a lovely little horror story that mixes noir, drag and something else into the mix to create a charming nightmare. It’s a little rushed and could have done with being a touch longer, but it crams a lot of ideas into a short space without being too forced. Amelia Mangam’s Stainless Steel is a cleverly twisted take on the theme, and A Bit of a Pickle by Paul D. Brazill is a nostalgia powered tale of regret.
Each tale finds its own niche, and each has been carefully chosen to fit the theme. This is a nice collection of tales you won’t find anywhere else, and is sure to please even the most jaded of noir palates.
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