This first book from Bezecny is a double-feature of two pulp-inspired novellas. It’s appropriate, given that many pulp books were sold as doubles. Both of these novellas are connected by a theme the protagonists encountering cults.
Tail of the Lizard King is about a beatnik girl named Sinthia who works at a glue factory. After she’s forced to kill her boss in self-defense, she goes on a pot bender. In her haze, she stumbles upon a coven of witches. After initiating her by having her mate with the Lizard King, they help her seek revenge against everyone in her life who’ve wronged her.
“When the Lizard King came upon her, she still wasn’t afraid. She realized that life was good, and excitement was life. Sexual excitement and the excitement of fear became one and the same for her, it seemed. The more scared she was, the more turned on. And the more turned on, the more alive.”
The biggest problem with this novella is its major subplot. A disgraced literary agent dons a costume and the moniker “The Vampire” to take revenge both on crime and on the publishing industry. This story is barely tied to Sinthia’s plot. He never even meets Sinthia in the entire novella. The result is that it feels like two short stories were edited together into one.
Despite that, it’s still a goofy and fun read. Both storylines are enjoyable and affectionately parody pulp tropes. While would have worked better had the storylines been separate stories and developed on their own, it’s still not a bad read.
The second novella, Kaliwood, it more focused. Monster movie Karl Denim has been diagnosed with both cancer and lunacy. Knowing he’s going to die soon, he sets off to make a monster movie with a real monster. He heads off to India, along with a kidnapped college student Fae as his leading lady, to hunt for the living dinosaur Noxosaurus.
“’Are you guys crazy?! The worship of Kali doesn’t involve human sacrifices! What is this, a pulp novel!?’ Denim’s face was livid with rage.”
There are still tangents and subplots in Kaliwood, but they all flow more naturally from the main plot. I found this one even more fun and entertaining than Tail of the Lizard King. Karl Denim is a wonderfully insane protagonist and the humor in this story hits more than the first.
I did find it odd that this story is titled Kaliwood. Denim and everyone he meets do in fact run into a Kali cult, however only towards the very end. While it’s important to the plot, you’d be confused by the title if you didn’t read the synopsis on the back of this book. This seems like a nitpick, but I think giving away the cult twist in the title and synopsis was unwise.
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