Monday, October 28, 2013

Short Story Review: Feast (Feast, Stray, Love #1) by Kevin Anthony

FeastI picked up this book during a free promo day on Amazon after the author requested a review for it.  As horror and m-m fiction, it's not in a genre I typically read, but sometimes a story will surprise me. As far as the theme goes, this one comes just in time for Halloween, but this story is meant for a mature audience.

Feast by Kevin Anthony
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A dish of humor served with a side of gore. Short, creepy, creative...

Feast is the first in the Feast, Stray, Love short story trilogy. The story begins with Damien being rescued by his teacher after passing out and causing a massive fire at the local college. Upon waking in the hospital, he learns he has a brain tumor, and his doctor performs the surgery to remove it. Unfortunately for Damien, his doctor is a bit of a quack and scrambles a few things up while working on him. Luckily, Damien's mother and boyfriend are there to support him through his recovery, but the extra job his boyfriend picks up to help cover expenses soon leads to unexpected complications in their relationship, and his doctor's shoddy operating techniques lead to complications of their own.

First off, I must say I don't frequently read stories specifically focused on men in romantic relationships with each other. That being said, I found the relationship believable and, for the most part, tastefully done. There are some sexual situations, but none are too explicit and the focus seems to be more on the emotional relationship, which is an approach I tend to like in a story. However, I would classify this book as horror, rather than romance.

The true focus of the plot is the doctor's mess of a job on Damien's brain and the creepy factory outside of town that subverts his boyfriend and later threatens his mom. People enter the factory, never to return. Those who land jobs there either disappear or leave their families to stay at the factory, and strange shipments arrive frequently. Besides that, the question is, what exactly does the factory do? The dodgy answers Damien gets from his boyfriend and later from a detective leave much to be discovered in later books in the series. Adding to the horror aspect of the story are the relationships. The author builds a highly admirable and likeable boyfriend, who the main character loves deeply, and then puts him in harm's way. He does the same with Damien's mother, building her up into someone the reader likes, and then showing her becoming a bit too enamored of an ironically named self-help book, "Feast, Stray, Love."

As for the vastly unqualified doctor in the story, I'm not certain the details or credentials surrounding him or his work on Damien are exactly believable, but his bedside manner is humorously atrocious, and his less than stellar operating skills are responsible for Damien's subtle transformation throughout the book. Again, is it believable? Not really, but it is entertaining. A good bit of the humor in the book stems from this crazy, irreverent doctor and the reactions of those around him.

Besides the romantic angle, the plot, and the crazy doctor, which I enjoyed and led me to like the story overall, there are a few things that kept me from loving it: one, grammatical issues, primarily the punctuation of the dialog; two, the frequent use of the F-word, not a surprise since it's also used in the book description; and three, various plot points for which I had to hit my "I believe" button. The dialog and other minor grammatical issues might detract from the story for those who find that sort of thing annoying, but could be fixed in a future edition. The F-word usage bugs me, but I think it fits into the story and the style of the writing, totally a personal preference type thing. The things that were vague could be due to the constraints of writing a short story, namely details are often cut to keep the story short. However, some of the details and situations presented are hard to imagine in a real setting, but are portrayed as being normal or realistic, which made some of the fictional aspects of the story less believable.

Overall, I liked Feast. It's a good, short book with a bit of humor and romance and a whole lot of mystery and creepiness factor, good for a horror story. The romantic relationship between Damien and his boyfriend isn't too explicit, focusing more on their relationship, but I would caution that it is aimed at mature readers. I'd recommend this story to those who like the horror genre, want a quick read, and either prefer or aren't bothered by books that feature a male-male romance.

I picked up a copy of this book from Amazon during a free promo day after the author requested a review.

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