I’ve had Secrets of the Weird on the TBR for some time. Every time I thought about picking it up and starting it something came along and got in the way. I’m a huge fan of Grey Matter Press, HUGE! I’ve loved pretty much everything they have published thus far, particularly their anthologies, which are second to none in terms of quality in my opinion.
Secrets of the Weird is very different and…well, weird. We follow Trixie: a young woman trapped inside a man’s body. Trixie is living life on the streets, trying to fit in, wanting to complete her metamorphosis by removing the hideous penis she carries between her legs. She is the star of the book undoubtedly and every chapter with her in is gold. She is a deep, engaging character with lots of internal conflicts happening. Throughout the novel, we are privy to a series of diary entries that delve further into Trixie’s personality and thoughts and insecurities.
Sweetville also plays host to a cast of bizarre characters, such as the odd and wraithlike Withering Wyldes, the cannibalistic Angelghoul and the cunning dwarf surgeon, Kast. These are just a select few. Chad Stroup is quite brilliant at creating characters that feel real. These people come to life on the page and even those inside the book that make infrequent appearances feel unusual and interesting.
However, as brilliant as Stroup’s characters are, the world of Sweetville felt somewhat bare, and for me personally, the opportunity to build this bizarre setting into something truly spectacular wasn’t realized. In fact, It felt empty to me, which is a real shame. I never really got much of a picture as to what it looked like. I had a connection to the characters but I wanted to see more of what this place had to offer. I also had a bit of a peeve with the advertisements. Unlike the diary entries, I found them to be jarring and I’d much rather Stroup use these pages to build the world of Sweetville.
Secrets of the Weird is a good book. I’ve read some great reviews for it, but it is also a book that didn’t quite work for me. I didn’t dislike it, but I certainly didn’t love it either. The characters are fantastic, but Sweetville left me unimpressed. I did, however, love how Stroup incorporated the transgender theme and I also enjoyed the numerous music mentions throughout. Fewer adverts and more world-building this novel would be close to a 5 star read.
I really wanted to love this book, alas, it wasn’t to be.
3/5 botched surgeries from the Grim Reader
Pick up a copy from here.