“Cushing delivers a knockout punch that’ll leave you reeling and that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last word.”
Ellie Blake is a closeted lesbian with sadistic leanings, desperate to come out but unwilling to do so in the bible belt community she lives in with her fanatically religious husband. Unfulfilled and miserable, she connects with Lori Morris, a twenty-four-year-old woman that she meets in a social forum on the internet. The two women make a plan to get together for one long night of lustful and sadistic lovemaking that will culminate in the taking of their own lives. But Lori has dark and deadly secrets and, as is often the case, even the best of plans can go awry. Her decision to commit suicide stems from her desire to escape from a terrifying being that has made her his concubine and enslaved her, and when she tries to flee she finds herself facing horrific consequences.
With several groundbreaking works under her belt, one of them the Bram Stoker nominated Mr. Suicide, Nicole Cushing is making huge waves in the horror community, taking readers and critics alike by surprise with her daring and unique brand of weird cosmic horror. The Sadist’s Bible takes that brand of weird to previously unimagined levels. Cushing is quickly becoming a household name for horror fans, and for good reason. Her voice is evocative of an unholy marriage between Clive Barker and Poppy Z. Brite, with a few dashes of Dante Alighieri tossed in for good measure, and her style is all her own, darkly erotic, wickedly unapologetic, and often ferociously violent.
In The Sadist’s Bible, Nicole Cushing pulls out all the stops and nothing is taboo. Replete with erotic, sadistic sex, brutal violence, and unthinkable horrors, this book reads like a high octane speed trip, short in length but big in concept. Ellie is forced to come to terms with the possibility that the reality of God may be far removed from the Christian concept of him, and far more horrific than anyone might have imagined. This isn’t the first time Cushing has taken this approach to religion. Jack Ketchum called her novel, I Am the New God, “…a broadside against the entire notion of divinity,” and that’s a pretty apt description of this piece as well. Cushing’s tale is an unflinchingly irreverent re-imagining of the idea of God and the Devil.
The Sadist’s Bible delivers the goods in all the major areas of fiction writing: the plot, settings, pacing, and conflict are all strong. But there are two elements of fiction that stand above all others in this story. One is character development. One of the most important aspects of a good story is a strong cast of characters. You can have the most well written story in the world, but if your characters are flat, everything else will be too. Cushing is a recognized master of character creation and that talent is readily apparent here, particularly in the cases of Ellie and the God-thing. They’re so well realized, so incredibly three dimensional, that you will really feel for them, and whether you like her characters or hate them, you’ll care about their fates.
The other aspect of writing that really shines with Cushing’s work is her overall storytelling ability. Most people don’t think of storytelling as an element of writing fiction, they think of it as the very act of writing a story. But in reality, this natural storytelling ability is just as important as creating well-rounded characters. While all the other elements of writing fiction, plot, theme, setting, character development, are learned skills, storytelling is a different creature all together. It’s the place where ideas are generated, where the thread of the story begins. When people talk about talent – in relation to making stories – as a genetic ability, storytelling is what they’re talking about. And Nicole Cushing has storytelling in spades. It’s the priceless, sparkling gem at the center of her work. The words flow from her astute pen with a natural and engaging tone that you can’t help but be carried along by, following the thread of this intensely human story to its shocking and savage finale.
Cushing’s flavor of weird horror is a thing all her own and, when it comes to writing about the ineffable, she doesn’t pull any punches, willing to follow the story wherever it goes, no matter how dark or disturbing it might be. And there’s plenty to be disturbed by here. When you’re not terrified – which you will quite often be – you’re appalled at the gruesome and shock laden atrocities that are committed in The Sadist’s Bible. Within its pages you’ll find instances of brutal sadism and sensual, sometimes twisted eroticism, and you’ll also find instances of hardcore body horror, increasing in extremism the farther you get into the story. And the end of the story is a virtual phenomenon. Cushing delivers a knockout punch that’ll leave you reeling and that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last word.
Nicole Cushing is a star that rises a little higher with each work she produces, using strong measures with daring and unapologetic subject matter to up her game and set the bar a little higher for other authors in the business of making high quality horror stories. If you haven’t read her work, you’re depriving yourself of a treat.
SHANE DOUGLAS KEENE
Ebook (87 pp)
Release Date: 5 April 2016
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