Black Heart Boys' Choir
Curtis M. Lawson is a writer of unapologetically weird, dark fiction and comics. His work includes It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World, The Devoured, Mastema, and Black Heart Boys’ Choir. Curtis is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and the organizer of the Wyrd live horror reading series.
Check out his work before you read the review?
Wow. Just wow. This book blew my mind. I’ve never read Curtis Lawson before, and I’m now wondering what all amazing things I’ve missed. Black Heart Boys’ Choir is sick and it’s a gem. It’s the best thing I read last month.
The story revolves around Lucien, a school boy who has a lot of problems with the world. He channels his anger by imagining violent scenarios where he obliterates anyone who gets on his nerve with great passion. Of course, there’s a lot more to this than just imaginations. He has a history. His father’s death is shrouded in mystery. All he has left of his father is a bunch of scribbled notes his father had worked with his friend, another talented musician. But the notes are ruined by black ink sprayed all over them. He can barely make out some, but it’s not at all enough. This notebook is the central part of the plot. Lucien is a music prodigy and is mad at his new school for it doesn’t have a proper music club. There is one, but he thinks it’s too mediocre. According to him, his entire town is mediocre. There are others who share his views, and they form their own club. It is Lucien’s dream that someday he will sing this malicious song with the members of the Black Heart Boys’ Choir, no matter what it takes, no matter the sacrifices he needs to make to the paranormal being that governs the song.
I won’t spoil the fun. It’s a very beautifully crafted story. The writer excels not only in just plot, but also his unique way of writing. With close observation, one can notice a terrific use of repetition (writers, take note). There are parallels in the flashbacks and in the present. Lucien’s rage and violent fantasies are quite vividly described in italics to keep this separate from the narrative. The pattern slowly grows and we soon realize how special it is.
I love music, but I hadn’t had the chance to study all the different forms and popular singers. It is clear Curtis spent a lot of time researching, for the book is rich with references. I wish I could understand them, but honestly even if you’re like me and don’t know much about music, you’ll still have a fun time.
The thing that struck me the most in this book was the voice. Voice is one of the most difficult things to master. Curtis nailed it in Black Heart Boys’ Choir. You may not agree with the protagonist’s choices or thoughts, but you can hear his voice loud and clear.
This book is not right for everyone. There’s a lot of violence. And I like it that Curtis didn’t tone down things, because this is horror. If you like twisted stuff, Black Heart Boys’ Choir is perfect for you. Otherwise, don’t risk it because the story is goingto drill holes in your fragile heart. It’s a sad story, it’s an evil story. The song celebrates apocalypse, so yeah things can get pretty dramatic. There’s a scene I think I’ll never forget. The friendship and how it ends. (Okay, I’m not going to spoil this.)
I’m a weird guy and I like weird shit. I was still not okay with the ending (I don’t think anyone can, and I respect the author that he still went on with it. Takes courage to remain true with our characters), but it makes sense when we know the characters and their desires. So yeah, I definitely recommend Black Heart Boys’ Choir.
Before you go, here’s my favourite quote from the book: Apocalpyse is a micro-cosmic event. That’s an angle I’ve never tried before. And I love how it was used in the story.
My very first short story collection of dark fiction stories BREATH OF THE VOID just went on pre-order! It’s a collection of nine stories, and each story comes with a haunting illustration. Now available for just $0.99 Please try it if you like dark stuff : )