Book Review – Secrets of the Weird by Chad Stroup

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“Trixie loathed her penis.”

What a great opening line, and with those four words, I was hooked! And that was after I’d seen the cover – a Medusa-woman-goat-butterfly-type thing with bloody hands!

Trixie, a resident of the strange and, well, weird town of Sweetville has never been comfortable with being male. If only she could go the whole hog and get the last piece of her masculinity removed.

Enter the dwarf Doctor(?) Kast who offers his services for this very procedure.

On the surface this is a story of a transgender girl trying to fit in with the world while she longs to be ‘complete’. But there is so much more going on.

The dirty streets of Sweetville are awash with a new designer drug, Sweet Candy. The whores and the rockers and the bums are hooked. The Angelghoul, a man who hopes to enter his own form of transformation, is keeping the addicts satisfied and hungry for more. Although his exploits for his very own change, using his Taste Subjects, are rather more malevolent.

Then there’s Christopher, bass player in punk band, Civilised Cannibals, who just happens to fall for Trixie, not knowing her history or penis-situation. She’s just a hot chick to him, and quite possibly the love of his life. What will he do when he finds out The Truth?

And who can forget the Zane twins, a pair of rich, sexually deviant, high-flying ego-maniacs who know Trixie from her past, dark days when she used to work the streets, and them.

This novel, although short, manages to throw you into the world with ease. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a giant tome of a book, but no, with only a few lines here and there, the magnitude of the setting is fleshed out perfectly. But another book set within this world have me licking my lips like the aforementioned Angelghoul.

Another way of looking at it could be that a number of ideas were not explored as completely as they could have been. I wanted to know more about Sweet Candy, about the strange Withering Wyldes, more of the infamous and late Dr Wylde who left behind this freaky cult, and about The Angelghoul, his Taste Subjects and the bizarre growths on his shoulders.

Aside from the narrative are excerpts from Trixie’s diary where we get more on her backstory, thus fleshing out her character’s hopes and dreams. Throw in the hilarious ‘word from our sponsors’ adverts, and even an interview from an old underground music mag with Civilised Cannibals, and you’ve got a really fun read in your hands. I suppose with the subject matter, you need a few giggles here and there!

So is the scene set for a sequel? Hopefully. There’s a vast chasm of opportunities for new characters to be introduced in the world of Sweetville, to satisfy my need for answers that weren’t fully addressed here, so I’m keeping things crossed for that.

Perhaps I was expecting more ‘weird’ in here, but maybe it’s because I’ve become accustomed to reading some fucked-up shit. But top marks for this one, a big recommendation for lovers of the strange.

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4 replies

  1. I just finished this yesterday! I couldn’t really get into it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. 😕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like it might have a Satan Burger vibe about it. Will have to give it a go. Maybe a double feature. The Girl Next Door for main and Secrets of the weird for deserts.

    Liked by 1 person

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