New York City in the early 1980s is a dark and dangerous scene, especially for a naïve young man from the Midwest.
Bryant Vess is staying with his cousin Wally and Wally’s boyfriend, Patrick, in New York City. Just as his new gay life is beginning to blossom with a sexy boyfriend, gay men across the city are beginning to fall ill with something that is, at first, called Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. At the same time, a series of grisly murders occur in the bathhouses, spawning newspaper articles about the “Village Vampire.” A bathhouse tryst with a mysterious stranger leaves Bryant sick—but not in the same way as his friends; he can’t stand the light and craves raw meat. When he returns to health, Bryant becomes certain that the dark stranger saved his life through this sex act. He hunts the man down to convince him to save everyone and finds himself drawn into an ancient secret society full of mysteries and dangers. A loosely connected companion to In Stone (2013), King’s sex-filled novel makes the most of its setting; the New York City bathhouse scene makes for a potent backdrop. Readers may well find the story’s internal paranormal logic problematic, as it draws some troubling connections among vampirism, homosexuality and AIDS.
While gay teens interested in paranormal romance and AIDS history could definitely do worse, this sometimes-busy and disjointed coming-of-age journal makes for an uncomfortable read. (Paranormal romance. 17 & up)