Monday, November 7, 2011

Soul/Mate by Joyce Carol Oates (as Rosamond Smith)

A super creepy cover for a super creepy book!

   Dorothea Deverell is 39 years old and recovering from the tragic death of her husband and the loss of their unborn child when Colin Asch steps into her life.  He is the nephew of a wealthy, established couple in town, and Dorothea can't help but notice his radiant youth and charm.  But after spending some time with Colin, Dorothea also can't help but notice his intense, unpredictable behavior, and she soon (unknowingly) becomes the object of his desire.  But Colin Asch does not merely desire his beloved Dorothea as a wife or friend - he craves total and complete possession of her life.

   Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite writers, and I have read a lot of her work, and let me say, she sure knows how to write a nightmare.  Soul/Mate is not my favorite of her novels, but it delivers the same caliber of strength in writing as does her other books.  Joyce Carol Oates is the master of the psychological horror story - with slow building but heavy intensity.  But what makes her writing so terrifying is not the reliance on blood and gore, but her portrayal of a darkness that no one wants to face - that everyone we know is capable of both the rage and apathy that are required to perform unspeakable acts against our fellow man.

   At times, Soul/Mate reminded me a lot of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, which was published 2 years later, in that their killers are quiet, logical, and methodical about their actions - we may even sympathize with them at times.  But then again, that's exactly why these stories are so unsettling - because if we cannot recognize or define evil, how do we know how to avoid it?