Porcelain by Nate Southard

Jason Hawks puts his career as a professional comedian on hold to return home to Cincinnati after learning his high school sweetheart, Andrea, stripping under the name Porcelain, publicly murdered multiple patrons before shooting herself. Reconnecting with old friends he similarly hadn’t spoken with in 12 years, Jason struggles to discover an explanation for the horrific act Andrea committed. Haunted by disjointed memories and terrifying hallucinations, Jason forces himself and two of his old friends to relive the events of the final night they’d all been together more than a decade before. Piecing together the pieces of what happened when six freshly graduated young adults had lost control and experienced something both carnal and terrifying, a mystery begins to unravel that threatens both sanity and the world as they know it.
Nate Southard shares a compelling and disquieting tale with this title. Friendships are rekindled and snuffed out on the page as the author drags us through a tangled mess of erotica and supernatural horror that tiptoes the line separating us from unstoppable, madness-inducing cosmic horror.
Fans of Stephen King’s IT will feel a certain sense of familiarity with this narrative of adults coming together and unhappily reliving a hardly self-aware sexual awakening they experienced at a much younger age. Unlike the uncomfortable scene described in King’s novel, in Porcelain, at least these characters were adults–though barely–when they intimately came together in a dark, terrifying place.
More terrifying than anything else for me, the core horror of this story is derived from the loss of control. Propelled by an insatiable desire for gratification, characters fight to restrain themselves and to fend off the debasement as increasingly louder voices within are urging them to give in. The almost vampiric presence at the heart of the horror is unsettling in its ability to overwhelm the individual’s better judgment and will to fight. The corrupting nature of the evil as its influence appears to spread from the original location in the abandoned factory makes for a truly disturbing concept, executed superbly by Southard.

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