Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: Spider Touched by Jory Strong

Jory Strong is an author I have not encountered before reading Spider Touched. However, whatever may have been the public's response to her previous efforts, this novel is a memorable experience in the literature of alternate realities. This book is filled with shapeshifters, dark and violent humans whose sadism violates the citizenry by their very presence, witches, gifted humans of various psychic abilities, wealthy and powerful people who rule with no concern for anyone but themselves, vampires, fallen angels and ghouls. Strong has connected with the strangest of muses as she has built a world that is as dark and confusing as a John Carpenter movie, riding on a background of unrelieved sensuality and eroticism. In fact, the background of some of the contemporary post-apocalypse movies flashed through my mind as I was reading. Even so, this is a book that should be assigned in college courses on the contemporary American novel.

Spider Touched tells the story of Anana and Tir, individuals who have strange and wonderful abilities but have not the slightest idea of what they are. The tale Strong weaves is obviously a story of good against evil, love against the forces of all that is alien to true relationship, but that is where any semblance of simplicity ends. The characters are dark, dark, dark!! Not many smiles, little tenderness to be found, and apart from the smouldering sexuality of the main characters, no regard or closeness to speak of. It is a world culture and society that is completely foreign to anything familiar; in fact, the world as we know it has ceased to exist. It is raw and cutting in its intensity and certainly not a novel for the fainthearted.

When all is said and done, Strong is an author of awesome proportion. Her skill at putting such a novel together is extraordinary. The various characters appear and then disappear, the strands of their individual experience merge and then separate and then merge again, just like the webs which spiders create with such care and intricacy. It is truly a work of literary art! It is not easy to read, but once begun, draws the reader on, moving from one scene to the next. When I read the final paragraph, my comment literally flew audibly out of my mouth: “Oh my gosh, what a book!” If one is seeking a quick and facile literary experience here, forget it. Reading Spider Touched takes commitment to the reading task! My rating: 5.

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