Richard Calder,
(Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002)

This book is definitely not for the squeamish! The faint-of-heart, however, are unlikely to pick up a book about a reanimated corpse who feasts on human brains, and that likelihood is decreased still further when the cover to the book describes his murderous girlfriend as half-rat, half-human, genetically engineered to die in orgasm. Calder presents a dichotomy for his readers even more bizarre than the freakish storyline -- he uses the most beautiful, poetic words to clothe his descriptions, imagery so wonderful one becomes lost in his words, only to suddenly realise the horror that he is describing. Again and again, he uses the most exquisitely crafted Trojan horse of wordcraft to deliver the most appalling, nauseating, murderous reality.

Frenzetta is a truly shocking story, bursting full of depravity so complete it defies belief. There are some lighter moments, courtesy of a little black humour from Duane Duarte -- what other kind of humour would you expect from the dead? -- as he narrates the tale of a vicious spree of sex and violence from his rotting perspective. Frenzetta, the other main character, for whom the book is titled, never quite seems to come to life, often appearing less believable than Duane, but that may be a deliberate ploy of Calder's. I personally disliked the book and did not care.

The continual and rather repetetious acts of violence and vice quickly become monotonous, and it was a struggle to persevere to the end of the salacious and sickening story. Calder's vocabulary has one reaching for a dictionary, sometimes for the word, sometimes to ensure understanding within the context, and it is a shame he does not put his considerable skills to more pleasant material. He presents an original and certainly extraordinarily imaginative concept of life in a "fantastic future," consisting of animalistic people and a few true humans. His ideas are lightyears ahead, but if this is his vision of the future, I sincerely hope it remains a fantasy. I infinitely prefer a spark of optimism to banish the dark, decadent, death-obsessed characters of Frenzetta to a quick oblivion. This book will doubtless appeal to some people -- the human race is almost as diverse as Calder's vision -- I just do not want to know the kind of folk who actively enjoy this subject matter!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 21 December 2002

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