"With salt in air and water in veins
I call the pale rider to loosen his reins
I call for death to loosen his chains
I call for air to return to the breast
I call for fire to ignite the rest
Let what was earthside return once more
Restart the clock, and settle the score
Reanimate the dead flesh of man
Render Phillip Deville alive again."
When I happened across the synopsis for 'Dead Rockstar' by Lillah Lawson, it just seemed like a rather unique premise and though it didn't necessarily seem like the kind of title I'd typically read.. I was fascinated by the concept.
The novel is about a young woman named Stormy who has had a pretty rough life overall and when we meet her at the opening, she's still spiraling ever downward. She's divorced and living in a rundown trailer out in an isolated part of the town, she's really just barely making it and she's got one good friend to help her stay sane, Sloan.
After getting lucky and finding an old copy of a super rare vinyl record from her favorite band.. the Bloomer Demons, a group she has lived for since she was just a teen, Stormy digs out a set of lines.. buried in the album cover artwork and as a 'joke' she attempts the impossible. She tries to resurrect the long dead rockstar and sexy, enigmatic lead singer.. Phillip Deville.
Answering a knock on her door a day later, she finds herself staring into the turquoise eyes of the beautiful undead rock god himself. But the act has put other things in motion too and in order to keep herself and her newly resurrected boyfriend safe, she's going to have to go to battle for them both.
"This isn't a new style."
"This is the same shit grunge kids were wearing when I was alive in the 90s. The only difference is instead of JNCOs the jeans have skinny legs, but otherwise it's the same."
Honestly, in the first few pages.. I thought the writing was really light-hearted and almost simplistic. But as I continued to read my perspective evolved and it began to seem more like a representation of the life Stormy was leading. She's a small town girl living a small restricted life and she feels like she's adrift. Her loneliness is not raging and loud.. it's not that kind of.. fill the void cacophony that her best friend exhibits. It's muted.. filled with anguish and the quiet fracturing of a soul.
Once Phillip shows up, all that begins to change. The texture of the story seems to almost adapt with the highs and lows of the characters. He's the kind of tortured artist that draws us in.. with his carefully crafted outer image and his fragile, loyal heart.
This story just resonated with me on so many levels. Growing up as I did.. I was in high school around the same time as the main character.. going to see the same bands she was listening to and already living and working in the industry. Nearly every legitimate performer mentioned in the book is someone I knew or met along the way and subtracting the obvious supernatural elements and the plot, the story could have been pulled from the pages of my own lifestyle.. which made it really grounding for me.
"I was almost at the dunes that mark the entrance of the trail, and I turned one more time to look at the water. I've always liked the way it churns during a storm, bringing all the debris onto the shore, all dark and frothy."
"Like a purging," Phillip said thoughtfully.
So many of my friends from major late 80's-early 90's groups were lost in similar ways to those in the book. Some of them are still falling from those proverbial pillars. There's nothing like discovering they come to their broken ends in the news. The pain on display felt so familiar it was jarring.. but moving.. and I found myself deeply invested in the future of these two people.
It's a roller coaster ride of emotions and a whirlwind of events to follow with both Phillip and Stormy trying to do everything in their power to protect one another against odds the likes of which they have no real understanding. There are some surprises which you may figure out as they get close to conclusion, but in no way are they laid out early and I love the way the author invoked certain familiar elements, such as one from a particularly legendary story.
Do yourself a favor.. if you like music.. love stories.. and some serious underdog appeal.. pick this book up and give it a read. You won't regret it.