A MelanieM Release Day Review: A Face Without a Heart by Rick R. Reed

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

a-face-without-a-heartA modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”

A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.

Let me start off by saying that one, I think the synopsis didn’t quite get it right.  I don’t feel that A Face without a Heart is a retelling of that fabulous and horrific Oscar Wilde tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is rather a modern day ode to Wilde by Reed. The author takes Wilde’s story of a beautiful man who bargains away his soul rather than see himself as anything less than the perfect image he sees displayed before him and gives it a Rick R Reed, hmmm, not twist perhaps but something similar enough as though the demon who visited Dorian came back and said, ‘here’s another likely candidate.  Let’s choose him.’  And did.

If you’re not familiar with Oscar Wilde, or his story, The Picture of Dorian Gray, drop everything and go read everything you can by this man, including that one. First published in 1890 to great consternation and uproar, it holds up to this day, where its in release still.  If you’re not and are looking for a romance, stop!  There’s not one to be found here unless its one man’s love for his own reflection at the cost of his soul.  To keep that beauty intact, there’s nothing he won’t do, keep that in mind.

So no to the romance. Yes to the horror.

Yes to the slow disintegration of a man and the appearances of what a life ill-used in every possible manner can look like on a painting (Oscar Wilde) or in this case a holographic portrait which was a very neat upgrade I must say by Rick R. Reed.  From the moment Liam Howard, photographer and artist, sees the incandescent beauty of Gary Adrion, he wants him to pose for his holographic portrait.  Gary’s an innocent.  Until he see’s himself unveiled in all his perfection. The author chillingly carries us from moment to moment, in each character’s involvement with each other as they head towards this shattering unveiling that will shift all their lives forever and past to all its damning ramifications. There’s multiple pov here which works very well. We know what’s coming and still its effect is immediate and alive.  And we know Gary’s innocence has fled.

What follows is every bit as horrific and condemning of the ideas of eternal youth/beauty and lives lived empty of morality or worth to anyone but yourself as Oscar Wilde held forth in 1890.  Still true today?  You make up your own mind. I think Rick R. Reed has done a splendid job.  I highly recommend this story if you are a lover of horror and a well written tale.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson.  I understand what the artist was trying to do but I think it ended up looking more like a press run gone bad instead of a holographic image he was going  for.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | DSP Publications

Book Details:

ebook, 4th Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: January 31st 2017 by DSP Publications (first published January 25th 2000)
Original Title A Face Without a Heart: A Modern-Day Version of Oscar Wilde’s the Picture of Dorian Gray
ISBN 163533263X (ISBN13: 9781635332636)
Edition Language English
Literary Awards Gaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001)

First Edition paperback published by Design Image Group, 2000.

Second Edition paperback published by iUniverse/Back in Print, 2006.

First Edition eBook published by Bristlecone Press, 2009

Release Blitz: Rick R Reed’s A Face without a Heart (excerpt and giveaway)

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Cover: Aaron Anderson
 
Publisher: DSP Publications
 
Length: 56,887 words
 

A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”


A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.

Excerpt


He was beautiful. Beauty is so seldom ascribed to men, too often incorrectly attributed to men with feminine features—wavy blond hair, fine cheekbones, teeth cut from porcelain. But I’ve always thought of beauty as a quality that went deeper than the corporeal… something dark, dense, inexplicable, capable of stirring longings primal, longings one would be powerless to resist.


He was beautiful. I sat on a Red Line “L” train, headed downtown, bags of heavy camera equipment heaped at my side, one arm resting protectively over them. I watched the young man, unable to train my thoughts on anything other than this man who had blotted out the reality of the day, magical and transforming. Beauty, especially so rare a beauty, can do that. The young man was an eclipse, his presence coming between myself and the reality of the day hurtling by outside train windows.


He had come in behind three foreign people, a bright counterpoint to their drab clothes, colorless, already wilting in the August humidity. They chattered to one another in a language unrecognizable, Polish maybe, and I was annoyed at their yammering, unable to block it out sufficiently enough to concentrate on the book I was reading, a biography of William Blake.


I almost didn’t notice him. It wasn’t like me to pay much attention to what went on around me, especially when I was preparing for a shoot. Usually I used the time on the train to set up the photographs I would take, the way I would manipulate light and shadow and how it fell on my models, to arrange the props, set up and test the lighting.


But something caused me to look up when the doors opened—perhaps I was struck by the dissonance created by the unknown language—and I saw him. Close-cropped brown hair, a bit of stubble framing full lips, a bruise fading to dull below his right eye. The bruise did not detract from the man’s beauty but served to enhance it, making of the rough features something more vulnerable. The bruise was the embodiment of a yearning for the touch of a finger, the whisper of a kiss. He wore an old, faded T-shirt with a Bulls logo, black denim cut off just above his knees, and a pair of work boots, the seam on the left beginning to separate. In spite of the workman’s garb, there was something intellectual about the man, an intensity in his aquamarine eyes that portended deeper thought.


At that moment, I made a decision. I don’t know what caprice seized me. I have always led an orderly life, completely without surprise. But when the train pulled to a stop and the young man stood, I acted on an impulse that was as sudden as it was uncontrollable.

Author Bio


Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.


He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”


Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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