Charlee Jacob

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform / 320 pages / (April 19, 2011)

ISBN: 1461111250

This is another review that is going to come with an NC-17 rating. Come to think of it — I would suggest shipping This Symbiotic Fascination in a reinforced paper sack. This will allow readers to receive their copy in something like anonymity and provide a handy barf bag. You’ll be wishing for both by the time you read the last page of this remarkable and sick novel.

Tawne Delaney and Arcan Tyler are two of the people that society prefers to ignore. They are people of such intense loneliness that it is painful to watch; it is easier to mock them than dwell on their misery. Tawne is a towering, ape-like woman, who at 37 is still dreaming of the handsome lover who will see only her inner beauty. Arcan is a beaten, wreck of a man, but a man with honour — an odd version of honour, considering the fact that he is a vicious, sadistic rapist.

Apart, they are the butt of every joke and cruel remark. Together, they are the couple of death. Literally.

When Tawne accepts the gift of undeath from a shift-changing stranger, she will set in motion events that will bring the monsters inside the two to the surface. In their wake, they will leave a trail of bodies and shattered lives. The bodies are the lucky ones. The hell is in surviving.

This Symbiotic Fascination is chock full of gore, sadism, murder, and rough sex. Horror doesn’t come any more hardcore than this. I would venture to say that even some horror fans who think they like it uncensored and explicit will blanch at some of the scenes in this little jaunt into the darkest side. If you make it through, though, you will never forget the images Jacob lays out for you. And, with therapy, you’ll be able to sleep again.

Yes, this is an unrestrained gore fest. A shocker. An outrage, perhaps, to some. But, it is more compelling than most work in this genre, or in the mainstream for that matter. Jacob’s human characters appear as distinctive, whole individuals, with good sides and bad. Perhaps beyond our personal experience (let’s hope), but unnervingly believable. The kind of people you see around you, pushed a bit too far, offered an irresistible chance to be on top for a change. Not so much of a stretch now?

Add in Jacob’s ear for dialogue and talent for description without the feeling of endless exposition. It’s a potent combination that carries the reader through passages that might be enough to turn away the most devoted fans. In another author’s hands this material might be simply rejected or ignored. It’s difficult to pass over This Symbiotic Fascination.

And more difficult to shrug off. I know people who would eagerly accept the horrific “life” offered by the shape-shifter. Much too eagerly.