Orgy Of Souls

by Wrath James White and Maurice Broaddus
Apex Publications
ISBN: 978-0-9816390-4-8
2008; $13.95

Orgy of Souls, written by Wrath James White and Maurice Broaddus, might well be classified as spiritual horror.

The two writers are as different as the novel’s two main characters. White is a professional fighter and a writer whose gritty fiction is known for habitually ignoring taboos. Broaddus is an environmental toxicologist and the facilitator for the Dwelling Place church. As a horror writer, Broaddus describes himself as a traditionalist on his website, seeking to let the horror in his stories arise from the mundane.

Though their styles seem incompatible, together they have crafted a seamless and chilling exploration of two brothers and their contradictory perceptions of faith.

In Orgy of Souls, Samuel is a priest who is infected with AIDS through a blood transfusion received during missionary work in Africa. Sampson, his brother, has made a modest fortune despite a lack of talent and intelligence – he cashed in on his extraordinary good looks as a successful male model.

Samuel suffers as he continues to live his life in “a gray, contemplative way,” waiting for his disease to run its course and sporadically questioning God’s plan. Sampson, “a beautiful piece of nothing” who enjoys his hedonistic lifestyle, struggles with his brother’s demise and seeks to end his torment.

Sampson makes a deal: Samuel’s life will be spared in exchange for 20 souls.

It is presumably White who provides the more graphic, explicit details of how Sampson gathers said souls. The episodes are meticulously gratuitous as scene after scene offers a cornucopia of literary splatter with an equally disquieting side dish of philosophical rumination.

One of the most enthralling aspects about Orgy of Souls is Samuel’s relationship with Nkosi Bhengu, a South African student also dying of AIDS. The priest visits her intermittently at Matthew House, a hospice. Their conversations give voice to greater theological underpinnings driving the plot.

Ultimately, the beauty of Orgy of Souls is in the many layers that went into its composition. On its surface, it is visceral horror with splashes of blood spraying off the page. Upon deeper inspection, it is a character-driven narrative involving two brothers with conflicting worldviews trying to protect one another. Driving it all is the religious conundrum, a subtle spiritual theme that the authors skillfully leave vague and ambiguous.

– Reviewed by Lee Clark Zumpe

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~ by darkdiscoveries on June 24, 2009.

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