Book Review: Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

Title: Twerk

Author: Isobel Blackthorn

Publisher: HellBound Books

Publication Date: Dec 2, 2018

Genres: Horror

Shelves: Female-author, female-fronted

While you can’t necessarily judge a book but its cover, you can tell a lot about a story by its opening chapter. With Twerk we get a really interesting take on a strip-club dance, one that is visually stimulating, but which subverts erotic expectations by having Amy think about shopping mall muzak, last night’s stir fry, and funny noises. Having already caught us off guard, Isobel Blackthorn then proceeds to have the man Amy’s dancing for start convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Hot stuff, right?

There are almost three stories being told here, two of which were fantastic, and one of which I felt was a drag on the narrative. Although, initially at least, Amber’s story seems disconnected from the main narrative, her POV was far-and-away the most interesting. Part of it is her personality, and part of it is her situation, but it was her chapters that kept me reading.

Lana, on the other hand, is the character we’d expect to be following, a law student by day and stripper by night, who is trying to solve the dual mysteries of what happened to the dead guy, and to where Amber has disappeared. Her role in the story is interesting, and the death threats she receives for her efforts help keep the reader grounded in the consequences of playing detective, but her voice isn’t nearly as interesting as Amber’s, and all the drama she’s dragged into – backstage and social media – becomes tiresome.

It is the third narrator, Lacuna, who really pulled me into the story. Creepy, twisted, sometimes nonsensical, and yet incredibly engaging, I kept wanting more. I had my ideas, my pet theories as to how Lacuna fit into things, but was still amazed at where Blackthorn took the story. The chapter on the town’s history, the revelations about one character’s genealogy, and the transformation of another character from victim into monster, was one of the best parts of the book. It’s where we see things come together, and begin to understand all the connections, although there are still surprises – violent, bloody surprises – to come in the climax.

Twerk wasn’t quite what I expected, and it’s probably better for it. It’s a dark, violent, sometimes romantic thriller, with some interesting insights into the human side of adult entertainment, with one of the best villains I’ve come across in a while. I’ve seen some reviewers complain about motivations, but I completely get them. Besides, madness is a motivation all its own.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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