Back on March 14th 2017 I reviewed favorably Mr. Vega’s novella “The Pink Beetle”. That was the third installment of his “The Young Men in Pain Quartet Book Series.” The Eclectic Prince is the first installment but the grouping is only thematic and not sequential so you may sample in any order. As I noted in my earlier book review, Mr. Vega has a very distinct writing style. He makes sudden transitions and violent plot shifts. His characters are not introspective but very impulsive and action oriented. The plot progresses rapidly but rarely linearly.
The first piece of information to convey is that this is an adult book. There is a fair amount of sexual content that would be entirely inappropriate for even teenagers (in my opinion). And there are some situations that are fairly disturbing from the point of view of conventional social mores.
Now for some personal information as a point of reference on my taste in books. Full disclosure, I’m not typically a consumer of dark fiction. I mostly inhabit the sunnier climes of story-telling. I will indulge in something like Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs if it’s very well written but it’s not my usual fare.
The Eclectic Prince is relatively dark. There aren’t any good guys to cheer. The protagonist at various times indulges in violent assault of a stranger and murder of a family friend. And there are even darker doings that I will not mention so as not to spoil the story. Suffice it to say he’s not such a nice guy. And he’s not even justified in the sense that he’s getting revenge on someone who committed a terrible wrong against him. He’s just a sociopath.
The outline of the story is episodic and consists of different vignettes that are tied together by the fantasy mechanism that underlines the story. This mechanism isn’t entirely clear from the text and this vagueness adds to the seeming randomness of the plot.
Let me sum it up. It’s a dark disturbing story of an unsympathetic protagonist, a kind of story that I would not typically choose to read.
But it’s well written, original and engaging in a transgressive way. Once again Mr. Vega is in the tradition of a noir type story with a fantasy framework to remove the bizarre story from the realm of reality. This allows some justification for suspending a very heavy bias against such a disagreeable protagonist. For those who seek out this type of story I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It is not for the faint of heart.
I haven’t decided whether to delve deeper into his quartet. This type of story is, as I stated above, not my typical choice. But maybe when I’m in a darker mood I’ll venture in again for another dose.