Lilac City. A place where the corruption runs as deep as the hell the city represents for so many. Certainly for Stevie, the prostitute, junkie, protagonist of this story.
It's hard to define this book. It's hardcore, it's gory, it features torture and rape; yet it does rise above the grittiness due to its beautiful use of poetic language. However, the language was a double-edged sword in my humble opinion. While it did elevate the story to become so much more than your run-of-the-mill horror/gore fest, it was also sometimes so dense it got in the way. What I mean by that is, at times, I thought that it interfered with the pacing of the story. Where the plot was urging me to move forward quickly, the density of the prose was insisting that I slow down. There were a few times where I think the narrative would have been better served by prose that was less dense and easier to devour more rapidly.
That's the only negative thing I can say about this book, and it's not really that negative. (The prose is too beautiful? LOL) Normally, this story would be out of my likability range, (torture is NOT my thing), but in this case, the language and the "moral" of the story, kept me going. That, the depth, and the characters. Stevie was such a messed up woman, but I couldn't help but root for her, since everything was stacked against her from a young age. There are psychological aspects here that I think the author represented in a genuine way. The results of child abuse on the very young, for example, and how the effects of that change a maturing psyche.
There are also some political elements at play here in the Lilac City. These were not fully explored and I expect the sequel to build on those issues a bit more. (While not exactly the same situation, I found myself thinking of the water problems in Flint, Michigan while I was reading.) Along with the psychological aspects of the story, these political aspects helped add yet another level to this already deep story.
Recommending this book is tricky but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway. If you think you can deal with the torture and rape story lines, I think the prose and this story itself will reward you as it did me. If you can't, (and no one could blame you), it's probably best you skip this one, because it's an unflinching look at them both.
*I received a free hardcover from Mr. Shad in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*