Drawing Blood: A Novel

Drawing Blood: A Novel

by Poppy Z. Brite

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Poppy Z. Brite re-imagines the haunted house novel, creating a fresh, sensual, and totally original reading experience. 


In the house on Violin Road he found the bodies of his brother, his mother, and the man who killed them both—his father. From the house on Violin Road, in Missing Mile, North Carolina, Trevor McGee ran for his sanity and his soul, after his famous cartoonist father had exploded inexplicably into murder and suicide. Now Trevor is back.

In the company of a New Orleans computer hacker on the run from the law, Trevor has returned to face the ghosts that still live on Violin Road, to find the demons that drove his father to murder his family—and worse, to spare one of his sons. . . . But as Trevor begins to draw his own cartoon strip, he loses himself in a haze of lines and art and thoughts of the past, the haunting begins. Trevor and his lover plunge into a cyber-maze of cartoons, ghosts, and terror that will lead either to understanding—true understanding—or to a blood-raining repetition of the past. . . . 

Praise for Drawing Blood

“Electrifying . . . explosive lyricism . . . [a] soul-sucking antagonist . . . rich background descriptions. That there is a Brite future never doubt.”Kirkus Reviews

“Exotica . . . disaffected youth . . . a spicy gumbo of sub-cultural hipness simmered in a cauldron of modern horror fiction.”Fangoria

“Darker and more exotic than Anne Rice, more cerebral than Stephen King . . . Horror is rarely this good.”Echo

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307768292
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/24/2010
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 288,039
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Poppy Z. Brite’s first novel, Lost Souls, was nominated for Best First Novel of 1992 by the Horror Writers Association and for a Lambda Literary Award. Her second book, Drawing Blood, was also nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and the Bram Stoker Award. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She lives and writes in New Orleans.

Read an Excerpt

As he walked to work each afternoon, Kinsey Hummingbird was apt to reflect upon a variety of things. These things might be philosophical (quantum physics, the function of Art in the universe) or prosaic (what sort of person would take the time to scrawl “Robin Fuks” in a freshly cemented sidewalk; had they really thought the legend was important enough to be preserved through the ages in concrete?) but never boring. Kinsey seldom found himself bored.
The walk from his house to downtown Missing Mile was an easy one. Kinsey hoofed it twice a day nearly every day of his life, only driving in when he had something too heavy to carry—a pot of homemade fifteen-bean soup, for instance, or a stray amplifier. The walk took him past a patchwork quilt of fields that changed with every season: plowed under dark and rich in winter; dusted with the palest green in spring; resplendent with tobacco, pumpkin vines, or other leafy crops through the hot Carolina summer and straight on till harvest. It took him past a fairytale landscape of kudzu, an entire hillside and stand of trees taken over by the exuberant weed, transformed into ghostly green spires, towers, hollows. It took him over a disused set of train tracks where wildflowers grew between the uneven ties, where he always managed to stub his toe or twist his ankle at least once a month. It took him down the wrong end of Firehouse Street and straight into town.
Missing Mile was not a large town, but it was big enough to have a run-down section. Kinsey walked through this section every day, appreciating the silence of it, the slight eeriness of the boarded-up storefronts and soap-blinded windows. Some of the empty stores still bore going-out-of-business signs. The best one, which never failed to amuse Kinsey, trumpeted BEAT XMAS RUSH! in red letters a foot high. The stores not boarded up or soaped were full of dust and cobwebs, with the occasional wire clothes rack or smooth mannequin torso standing a lonely vigil over nothing.
One rainy Saturday afternoon in June, Kinsey came walking into town as usual. He wore a straw hat with a tattered feather in its band and a long billowing raincoat draped around his skinny shoulders. Kinsey’s general aspect was that of an amiable scarecrow; his slight stoop did nothing to hide the fact that he was well over six feet tall. He was of indeterminate age (some of the kids claimed Kinsey wasn’t much older than them; some swore he was forty or more, practically ancient). His hair was long, stringy, and rather sparse. His clothes were timeworn, colorfully mismatched, and much mended, but they hung on his narrow frame neatly, almost elegantly. There was a great deal of the country in his beaky nose, his long jaw and clever mouth, his close-set bright blue eyes.
The warm rain hit the sidewalk and steamed back up, forming little eddies of mist around Kinsey’s ankles. A puddle of oil and water made a swirling rainbow in the street. A couple more blocks down Firehouse Street, the good end of town began: some shabbily genteel antebellum homes with sagging pillars and wraparound verandas, several of which were fixed up as boardinghouses; a 7-Eleven; the old Farmers Hardware Store whose parking lot doubled as the Greyhound bus depot, and a few other businesses that were actually open. But down here the rent was cheaper. And the kids didn’t mind coming to the bad end of town after dark.
Kinsey crossed the street and ducked into a shadowy doorway. The door was a special piece of work he had commissioned from a carver over in Corinth: a heavy, satin-textured slab of pine, varnished to the color of warm caramel and carved with irregular, twisted, black-stained letters that seemed to bleed from the depths of the wood. THE SACRED YEW.
Kinsey’s real home. The one he had made for the children, because they had nowhere else to go.
Well … mostly for the children. But for himself too, because Kinsey had never had anywhere to go either. A Bible-belting mother who saw her son as the embodiment of her own black sin; her maiden name was McFate, and all the McFates were psychotic delusionaries of one stripe or another. A pale shadow of a father who was drunk or gone most of the time, then suddenly dead, as if he had never existed at all; most of the Hummingbirds were poetic souls tethered to alcoholic bodies, though Kinsey himself had always been able to take a drink or two without requiring three or four.
In 1970 he inherited the mechanic’s job from the garage where his father had worked off and on. Kinsey was better at repairing engines than Ethan Hummingbird had ever been, though deep inside he suspected this was not what he wanted to do.
Growing older, his friends leaving for college and careers, and somehow the new friends he made were always younger: the forlorn, bewildered teenagers who had never asked to be born and now wished they were dead, the misfits, the rejects. They sought Kinsey out at the garage, they sat and talked to his skinny legs sticking out from under some broken-down Ford or Chevy. That was the way it always was, and for a while Kinsey thought it always would be.
Then in 1975 his mother died in the terrible fire that shut down the Central Carolina Cotton Mill for good. Two years later Kinsey received a large settlement, quit the garage, and opened the first-ever nightclub in Missing Mile. He tried to mourn his mother, but when he thought about how much better his life had gotten since her death, it was difficult.
Kinsey fumbled in his pocket for the key. A large, ornate pocketwatch fell out and dangled at the end of a long gold chain, the other end of which was safety-pinned to Kinsey’s vest. He flipped the watch open and glanced at its pearly face. Nearly an hour ahead of schedule: he liked to be at the Yew by four to take deliveries, clean up the last of the previous night’s mess, and let the bands in for an early sound check if they wanted. But it was barely three. The overcast day must have deceived him. Kinsey shrugged and let himself in anyway. There was always work to do.
The windowless club was dark and still. To his right as he entered was the small stage he had built. His carpentry was unglamorous but sturdy. To his left was the art wall, a mural of painted, crayoned, and Magic Markered graffiti that stretched all the way back to the partition separating the bar area from the rest of the club. The tangle of obscure band names and their arcane symbols, song lyrics, and catchphrases was indistinct in the gloom. Kinsey could only make out one large piece of graffiti, spray-painted in gold, wavering halfway between wall and ceiling: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.
Those words might be the anthem of every kid who passed through that door, Kinsey thought. The hell of it was that they were afraid, every one of them, terribly so. Afraid they would never make it to adulthood and freedom, or that they would make it only at the price of their fragile souls; afraid that the world would prove too dull, too cold, that they would always be as alone as they felt right now. But not one of them would admit it. We are not afraid, they would chant along with the band, their faces bathed in golden light, we are not afraid, believing it at least until the music was over.
He crossed the dance floor. The sticky remnants of last night’s spilled beer and soda sucked softly at the soles of his shoes with each step. Idly brooding, he passed the restrooms on his right and entered the room at the back that served as the bar.
He was brought up short by the stifled screech of the girl bent over the cash drawer.
The back door stood open, as if she had been ready to leave in a hurry. The girl stood frozen at the register, catlike face a mask of shock and fear, wide eyes fixed on Kinsey, a sheaf of twenties clutched in her hand. Her open handbag sat on the bar beside her. A perfect, damning tableau.
“Rima?” he said stupidly. “What …?”
His voice seemed to unfreeze her. She spun and broke for the door. Kinsey threw himself over the bar, shot out one long arm, and caught her by the wrist. The twenties fluttered to the floor. The girl began to sob.
Kinsey usually had a couple of local kids working at the Yew, mostly doing odd jobs like stocking the bar or collecting money at the door when a band played. Rima had worked her way up to tending bar. She was fast, funny, cute, and (Kinsey had thought) utterly trustworthy, so much so that he had let her have a key. When he had another bartender, he didn’t have to stay until closing time every night; on slow nights someone else could lock up. It was almost like having a mini-vacation. But keys had a way of getting lost, or changing hands, and Kinsey didn’t entrust them to many of his workers. He had believed he was a pretty good judge of character. The Sacred Yew had never been ripped off.
Until now.

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Drawing Blood 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Ryan_G More than 1 year ago
The simple terror and horror that this author is able to put across in her prose is simply stunning and it never fails to make an impression on me. What has always impressed me with the author's style is how simple and elegant her word choice is. She is a true wordsmith who picks her words carefully and none of them are wasted. Whether she is describing a young boys abuse by his parents, autopsy reports, or two young men having sex for the first time she does it in a style all her own. Trevor is a horribly damaged young man who through sheer strength of mind has kept himself alive in the physical sense but he has never really allowed himself to truly live life. Twenty years after the scared 5 year old was pulled out of the house in a catatonic space he goes back to discover for himself why he was left alive by his father. He has never understood why his father spared his life when he took a hammer to the rest of the family. Part of him truly believes his father didn't love him enough becuase if you love someone you want them with you when you leave this existence. When he meets Zach for the first time he almost kills him but the two quickly realize that they need each other in a way they have never experienced before. They compliment each other in a way they have never experienced before. By having Zach in his life, when he has never even let someone else touch him, Trevor may have found the only thing that can help him survive what's to come. Zach finds the one person that can help him truly move past what his parents did to him as a kid. These two character are what glues this story together. They are the focal point for all that happens and their relationship is what keeps this from being your everyday haunted house story. I would highly recomend this book to anyone who loves horror or simple craves a well written, modern haunted house tale
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite of Brite's horror novels. I love Zach and Trevor. Both such broken young men, but lovely together. There is explict homosexual content so if you find that off putting, it's probably not the book for you. I, however, am forever grateful to my cousin for turning me on to this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has always been a favorite. The characters are easy to love and the plot is beautifully laid out. Brite will always be a favorite
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really love Brite's style of writing and this book had me searching for more stories like it written by her. It was shocking- the gruesome imagery of Trevor's brother death sticking with me whenever he recalled it, the tangibility of the world residing in the evil contained within the house and the surreal-ness when it all came full circle- can you see I like it? The only thing that threw me off was the technical lingo around Zach but once you get past it, I was again captivated by the interaction between Trevor and Zach and bemoaned it ending. I can't wait to read more from her ^_^
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was seriously awesome. I borrowed it off a friend one bored day & couldn't seem to put it down. It is so worth reading, seriously. Go out & buy it asap.
silversurfer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WOW-What an excellent read...the story is complicated, but the characters of Trevor and Zach are fully fleshed out and their story carries you along, a dark, widning road. More then just a Horror nove, or a haunted house story...it's about 2 haunted lives that meet and fall in love. Brilliant. I would have loved her to continue their story or write more horror-gay fiction, but it seems she has abandoned this genre. Too bad. What an engrossing world and characters she created in this novel-they deserved an after life.
uselessbeauty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually liked this one better than Lost Souls.
Scoshie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully visual novel. Good characters and story held my attention. Great locations and had adecent story flow.
babydraco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A pretty decent horror novel about a computer hacker and an artist who shack up in a haunted shack. I'm sure I'm not the only one who, upon seeing that PZB had brought in familiar characters, hoped she was building a world. Unfortunately, it kinda stops here.
Ghibli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this one.This time the main characters are two and Brite takes her time to make them known, little by little...Actually the first part of the book can seem a little slow, but the author is just giving us all the necessary informations to make her characters penetrate deeply in our heart....One of them is a cartoonist and is searching for the cause of all the tragedy and horror that marked his childhood.The other one is a hacker on the run from FBI, used about to any sort of drugs and sex.Then there is Missing Mile, the same surreal town where used to live Ghost of Lost Souls, the same town where as usual all destinies cross....And there is a haunted house.Less cruel than Lost Souls, even if perhaps more raw, in some scenes, with quite a lot of suspence.It's definitely a horror story... But actually the reading key, in my opinion, is a love story, very intense and violent.
Flamika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the best of Brite's novels, but it's still a good, solid read about a man tormented by a violent incident in his childhood and the man he meets, who is on the run from the law. Brite always has a great, gritty style of describing things. She's a master of the ugly-pretty.
badrabbyt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
you've heard the saying about how a person can either like elvis, or the beatles? you may say you like both, but deep down, we're all either elvis fans or beatles fans. it's kind of like a turf war.i feel this way about poppy z brite and anne rice. and go ahead and think badly of me - but i dislike anne rice. i think poppy z brite is the better author. they seem to fill the same space in an already niche-type market, and i if have to choose one, it's poppy without a second thought. this book specifically, and her other books in general, are rich in description. the story is interesting. i like the characters, good and bad. i just can't say enough about poppy.
Katiebear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drawing Blood was an interesting read. I must say that if anyone can't stand boy-on-boy action or is offeded by homosexuality DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. There is graphic sex scenes, and parts that I didn't read because I had enough.That being said, the basic premise of the book was original and well thought out. It is a basic haunted house-type story, with music, art and drugs tossed in for good measure. It was equal parts horror and erotica, with excellent prose, strong characters and persistant plot line. There is not a line or a paragraph that is wasted in this book.I am not going to write out what happens. I think that the best part of the book was not knowing what would happen, so I am going to leave it all enshrouded in mystery. If you're looking for an R-rated book that will keep your toes tingling for a while after you've read it, this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And I was not disappointed. Excellent characters, and settings with as much to offer as the people in them. Dialogue was natural and relatable. The only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because of how Brite handed Eddy. Her unrequited love and her disdain for her job felt kind of tired, like she didn’t really feel that way, but that’s how Brite thought she should feel because no one could possibly resist Zach or be happy as a sex worker. It just felt forced. Loved everything else though.
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