Dancing with Demons by Lucy Taylor
If you see someone across a crowded room to who you're instantly, overwhelmingly attracted, RUN - in the other direction.
Recovering alcoholic Jessie Tauber has heard that advice and chosen to ignore it, allowing a man she just met, the enigmatic Simon, with his penchant for secrecy and bondage games, into her life. By turns sensuous, seductive and brutal, Simon seems conjured up from her most erotic dreams...and most blood-curdling nightmares.
Soon Jessie is enmeshed in a kind of folie a deux, as she and Simon make a terrifying trip across Colorado, throwing everything and everyone Simon sees as an obstacle to their twisted love into deadly peril.
Demons. They're written of exhaustively, and often badly, in supernatural horror yarns and duplicitous comics. But in this brand-new novel by Lucy Taylor, we find a brilliant study of demons of a far more human likeness: weakness, addiction, guilt. Real consequences in a real world propel this very real and terrifying novel. There are no horns on these demons, no evocations, no arcane occult texts, and no monsters rising from flaming pentagrams.
What rises, instead, in this relentless, modern-day thriller, is a far more allegorical demon: lust.
Jessie Tauber, a recovering alcoholic/sex addict, slowly finds herself being tortured by her own self-doubt. Her addictions have caused her to lose custody of her son, Henry, and this tragedy constantly tempts her back to the liquor store to drown her sorrows. Now Henry lives with Jessie's father, an evangelical preacher, and to make matters (and Jessie's guilt) worse, Henry's already started drinking, and he's only 13 years old.
Just when Jessie's plight couldn't seem darker, the handsome and charismatic Simon enters her life like a beacon of bright light. There's an instant common bond: Simon is a recovering alcoholic himself. And he seems to understand Jessie and all the hardships she's experiencing. Indeed, after a string of relationships with men who turned out to be abusive, half-crazy heels, Simon appears to be what Jessie's never had before: Mr. Right.
But Jessie soon finds out she couldn't be more wrong, and she finds out the hard way. The suitors of her past don't know what crazy is compared to Simon...
In Lucy Taylor's track record of preeminent storytelling, she clearly outdoes herself in this grim, terrifying, and all-too-real novel. Taylor's mastery of plot, characterization, and sheer modern realism explode in this brilliant tale of taboos, betrayal, scorching sex, and outright insanity.
Taylor is also, in my opinion, a writer who weaves dark eroticism into the workings of a breakneck thriller better than any author out there. Her prose shines, crackles, and summons images that not only entertain but disturb the reader as well.
Taylor's stories make us think; they make us see more of the real world and the human condition within the covers of a book that we might have the courage to look at outside of it. Portions of this novel will shock you, some will arouse you, while others will haunt you for some time to come. In Dancing with Demons, Taylor puts one foot boldly past the line that has yet to be crossed by the name-brand "pop" thriller authors. And she dares you to cross that line with her.
This is a powerful and serious work, and the author's deft, literate style delivers a novel as unique as it is unforgettable. Be sure, though, to brace yourself before delving into this keg-of-dynamite thriller. Demons come in all shapes and sizes, and you just might find yourself dancing with one yourself.
—— Edward Lee, author of City Infernal, The Bighead and Header