Now and then there comes a book so strange, that the comedown after reading feels like the day after an acid trip. Your concept of reality shifts. Your brain rewires itself. You see things out of the corner of your eye that may or may not actually be there. The Church of Latter-Day Eugenics is one such book that after reading it, you will wonder whether Chris Kelso & Tom Bradley have invented a method of infusing their fiction with psychedelic substances.
The story follows a cynical tabloid writer named Fulton and his surly assistant Cheryl through the streets of London, and down a rabbit hole of religious conspiracy. The duo sets out to investigate the killing of a reality television star named Bryan Fix, and once the action starts, it doesn’t stop. What starts off as a murder mystery soon unravels, sending the protagonist into the heart of a cult whose motives are more insidious than he ever could have imagined.
From Fulton’s first sighting of the should-be-dead reality television star lurking in an alleyway, the line between fantasy and reality blurs. Smog creeps in from the edges, and before you know it, the protagonist is having drug-induced visions of a goddess in the sky that possesses the disturbing answers to what’s really going on in London’s sacred underbelly. Here’s a hint: it involves the harvesting of bodily fluids. Each scene is brief but highly memorable, not to mention illustrated with incredible detail by Nick Patterson, lodging the disturbing images even deeper into your psyche.
The prose is hypnotic, filled with witty dialogue and British slang that adds a whole lot of humor to the dark plot. Fulton continually rattles off hilarious lines, some that may rub the reader the wrong way, but that’s just the protagonist’s style. He’s a bit of a bastard, but that’s what makes him good at his job, and by the end of the book you can’t help but root for the guy, though by then it’s too late.
The Church of Latter-Day Eugenics will convert you to the cult of the bizarre. Kelso & Bradley are the perfect example of two heads being better than one, and when you add Patterson as a third, it’s downright lethal. This book will knock you on your ass, and you’ll wake up wondering if it was all a bad dream, or if a missionary drugged your beverage. There’s no use fighting it. You’ve been preselected by the goddess above, and she always gets what she wants.
Benjamin DeVos is the author of the forthcoming novella The Bar Is Low (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018) among others. He is the head editor of Apocalypse Party and lives in Philadelphia.
Chris Kelso is an award winning genre writer, editor and illustrator from Scotland. His short stories and articles have appeared in magazines and journals across the UK, US and Canada. Unger House Radicals won the Ginger Nuts of Horror Book of the Year in 2016 and The Black Dog Eats the City was featured in the Weird Fiction Review’s best of 2014.
Tom Bradley has published twenty-five volumes of poetry, fiction, essays and screenplays with houses in the USA, England, Canada and Japan. Various of his novels have been nominated for the Editor’s Book Award, the New York University Bobst Prize, and the AWP Series. 3:AM Magazine gave him their Nonfiction Book of the Year Award in 2007 and 2009, and one of his latest graphic novels is excerpted in last year’s & Now Award Anthology. His journalism and criticism have appeared in such publications as Salon.com, and are frequently featured in Arts & Letters Daily.