BY NERINE DORMAN
(Lyrical Press, December 2009)
An incendiary work of black magic that will leave kindergoths wide-eyed.
Occultist James Edward Guillaume enjoys living up to his reputation as
South Africa's wickedest man, but in so doing, he becomes a target for
those who believe his esoteric arts and alternative lifestyle are the
work of the devil and should be punished.
The author displays an accomplished style that gives me confidence to
follow her into the dark. The protagonist, Jamie, offers a distinctive
shock-rocker view of the world with a unique perspective on our
so-ordinary lives. The story is an introduction to a ragged slice of
Goth culture in Cape Town. The detailing is convincing –
references to esoteric texts, drug culture and rituals that speak of
experience or such good research that it is indistinguishable from it.
But the book comes with a warning: M/M and M/F sexual content, occult,
violence, gore. You’d best avoid it if you find smears of
prejudice, graphic violence and conversations peppered with vile
expletives offensive. I'd never have expected a woman to have written
this … but I suspect that she is more fire and demon, with an
undeniable knack for finding soft places with her claws.
In terms of setting a mood of eerie loneliness and ruin in modern-day
suburbia, Kephera Rising is a complete success: Jamie’s life is a
tragedy, the suffering graphic, the grimness unrelenting and some of
the first-person writing is superb: 'a smile fakes its way across
my face and a cold sweat starts beneath my armpits. Hollow eyes glance
at me from the mirror above the fireplace.’ Jamie is suitably
tormented by his lack of evil intent and vacillation in the face of his
growing dilemma. The detailing of Cape Town is convincing and the dark
underbelly of the city disturbing in its believability. This is where
Dorman’s alter-ego as a travel writer shines through.
You’ll also have ringside seats for some blinding action scenes.