Secrets Of The Weird: Chad Stroup
Reviewed By Gavin Kendall
I was somewhat apprehensive as I dipped into this novel with an opening line that certainly sets the tone for a surprising reading experience.
That opening line?
TRIXIE LOATHED HER PENIS.
Welcome to Sweetville and Secrets Of The Weird
Secrets Of The Weird is set in the early ’90s, references to presidents (Clinton) and musicians (The Cure, The Smiths) ground this novel in reality but it’s key setting, Sweetville, is a fictional City populated by a wild assortment of characters. From the relatively normal residents going about their day-to-day lives, to the neo-Nazis club scene to drag queens, prostitution and even cannibalism. Sweetville is also under the cloud of a powerful new designer drug, Sweet Candy. Its streets are full of the lost and the lonely with an unusual cult, that speaks in a tongue that only the broken minded can understand, the Withering Wyldes are only too happy to prey on the weak.
Secrets Of The Weird is relatively light of plot, but that really doesn’t matter. The central story is about Trixie, a strong young woman, trying to earn enough money to complete her transition. It’s a powerful story but not preachy in the slightest. Stroup uses Trixie’s diary entries to let us know about her past and her hopes and fears for the future. A clever mechanic that added a grounded reality to some of the madness going on in the present day. Trixie is a fantastic protagonist that I’d love to read more about. More that I’d like to read about are the plethora of Sweetville residents that we briefly meet in pushing Trixies’s story along. There are so many interesting characters populating this City that it’ll be a crime if Stroup doesn’t bring us back.
The prose is tight and very well written, Stroud has created a believable world that’s filled with the unbelievable. I must warn you that there are scenes that do not make for a particularly easy read, but Stroud is skillful in being explicit without going into details (The Zane brothers first encounter with Trixie springs to mind). As well as the gritty side of the story there are many good-humoured moments, with a Crying Game reference making me laugh.
Secrets Of The Weird is not a book I would have ordinarily picked up. I don’t believe I have read much in the way of ‘weird’ fiction and after Secrets, I feel I may be missing out on something. In Sweetville, Stroup has created a City full of adventure, danger and eroticism populated with a range of characters that simply jumped off the page and with his lead Trixie, he has created a strong female character that I absolutely want to read more about.
…and now a word from our sponsor.
Secrets Of The Weird
The fulfillment of your every desire… That’s the enticing yet dangerous promise of Sweet Candy, the new designer drug making the rounds through the community of club kids, neo-Nazis, drag queens, prostitutes and punks who populate the mean streets of Sweetville.
With its chewable hearts and candied lips threatening to forever transform the delicate social balance and the very lives of each and every member of the city’s underground, Sweet Candy is poised to ignite the tenuous powder keg that is life, love and lust in Sweetville.
But could the enigmatic back-alley surgeon Julius Kast and his partnership with a peculiar cult be the spark that lights the fuse once and for all? And how will their actions affect the life of a young woman named Trixie who is seeking salvation through transformation?
Take a remarkable journey that’s equal parts irreverent social commentary, revisionist dystopia, dark fantasy and horrifying reality when you travel to the unforgettable world of Sweetville’s counterculture where a host of sometimes dangerous, often deviant and always dark secrets are waiting to be revealed.
Such secrets refuse to be confined to Sweetville.
But instead will come home with you.
I’m living in the South-East of England between London and Brighton. I’ve been married to Laura since 2000 and have two daughters. (Emily & Freya). I’ve always had a passion for horror and decided, as a hobby, that I’d like to create a blog to showcase this fascination with the darker genres.
I started Kendall Reviews in January 2017, initially to host my reviews of books and music that I had in my sizeable collections. Pretty quickly, this became a passion project and morphed into a blog that wanted to help PROMOTE HORROR.
I want to thank all the people that interact with the blog and of course to the rest of the Kendall Reviews team.
Please find all my contact details here