First published back in November of 1993, US horror author Edward Lee’s erotic horror novel The Chosen was the fifth novel for the author to see publication.

More recently the book has been re-released by MHB Press in September of 2010 in three different limited edition hardback formats:

Collectors Edition (300 signed and numbered copies) - The book is bound in Colorado Book Cloth with a sewn book block, head/tail bands and a bound-in ribbon book mark. The pages themselves are 90 gsm matt coated paper, which gives the book a good quality weight.

Deluxe Edition (150 signed and numbered copies) - The book is handmade, quarter bound in red goat skin leather with handmade paper covered boards, including additional colour artwork and issued in a special handmade cloth covered slipcase.

Lettered Edition (26 signed and lettered A-Z copies) - This ultra-luxurious edition is handmade, fully bound in red goat skin leather with gilt edges and handmade marbled endpapers, including additional colour artwork and comes in an extra indulgent handmade traycase.

The MHB Press re-release includes new cover artwork and a small number of black & white illustrations, all by illustrator Paul John Ballard.

DLS Synopsis:
It’s the 1990’s and successful restaurant manager Vera Abbot is finding that her life is very much coming together as she hoped it would, with her fiancée Paul Kirby doing well with his work as a freelance journalist, as well as the restaurant that Vera has transformed through her own hard work, now doing incredibly well.  And the success with the restaurant, from out of the blue Vera suddenly finds herself being offered a job as the restaurant manager at an exclusive hotel for the extremely wealthy.  The position is put to her by the equally wealthy new manager of the hotel – a somewhat understated yet somehow mysterious individual named Feldspar.  The new position would at least double her current wage, as well as offering free accommodation within the luxurious hotel, a company car and other such perks.

On the same night that Vera is being propositioned with this potential job of her dreams, her fiancée Paul is out in a popular bar that is frequented predominately by singles, researching the somewhat sordid scene within such establishments, for a four-part series that he has had commissioned.  However, later that night, after Vera returns to their apartment, she discovers her fiancée in bed with two young women, all of which are engaging in some very sexual practices.

In that moment, Vera’s life suddenly falls apart.  And so the next morning, waking up in her car after having fled from their apartment, Vera decides to take the job Feldspar offered her at the new hotel – The Inn.  Now that she has suddenly cut all her ties with Paul there is nothing to hold her back from taking on the new position.  And so Vera, with a heavy heart, together with a handful of employees that she steals from her previous job, Vera heads off to the remote location where The Inn’s renovation is being finished before it is opened up to its ‘select clientele’.

Meanwhile, two young psychopathic serial killers named Zyra and Lemi are picking up random men, women and couples in order to satisfy their insatiable libidos and bathe in the bloody gore of their victims blood.  But not every one of their victims is killed then and there.  Those they choose to, are taken away with them, to fulfil a far more disturbing purpose.

Back at The Inn, the building’s haunting past, from when it was a sanatorium known as Wroxton Hall, is putting the new employees ill at ease with their surroundings.  Furthermore, a number of them (including Vera) are experiencing bizarrely sexual dreams.  And what the hell is it with all of the noise that is heard throughout the night from the mysterious ‘select clientele’ that none of them have ever seen?  Vera is about to find that under the cover of a high-class hotelier business lurks a hideous and blasphemous horror that is forever lusting for the sins of the flesh…

DLS Review:
Lee’s ‘The Chosen’ is a surprisingly slow burner for the first half of the tale, that unfortunately suffers from some considerable sagging in pace and plot development around the mid-section of the novel.  This is a shame, because otherwise, the interesting parallel running sub-stories, the personal bonds that build up some tightly developed characterisation, and the unrestrained eroticism that is injected into the horror story as a whole, together creates an otherwise engaging and thrilling read.

The main strength of the novel no doubt lies with the hazy mixture of sordid dreams and drug fuelled orgies which, when splattered so heavily across the entirety of the novel, create an overall unreal undertone to the tale.  Luckily Lee cranks up the levels of downright sleaze in the novel, venturing deep into the pits of depravity, and heavy sadomasochistic indulgences at almost every possible opportunity.

This is certainly not a novel for the light-hearted.  Its no-holds-barred approach to the levels of eroticism within the general parameters of an otherwise mildly intriguing horror story is what saves the novel as a whole.  Without the unrelenting and uncensored scenes of depravity and sleazy sex, the tale would undoubtedly be painfully mundane.

Characterisation (as previously touched upon) is particularly strong, if not a tad on the clichéd side.  The employees from the previous restaurant – ‘The Emerald’, that Vera steals away, are each given their own backstories, unique (and somewhat exaggerated) personalities, as well as tight bonds with each other.  Much of the novel is taken up by the antics, readjustment and interaction between the characters, with a colourfully tongue-in-cheek approach adopted towards each of them.

The revelation of the dramatic twist ending is impactful and utterly engaging, although it’s actual unveiling is rather contrived and overly explained.  However, this is soon cast to the side as Lee steps up the pace, delivering scene after scene after scene of maniacal horror, torture, sex and nail-biting action.

The tale hurtles to an all-encompassing finale that wraps up almost every aspect of the novel with a flash of desperate action and fight for survival.  Lee maintains his descriptively graphic approach to the sexual violence throughout these final pages, not letting the ending run away from him without delivering a last punch in the guts for the reader.

All in all the tale suffers from a frustratingly plodding pace that holds the storyline back from fulfilling the erotically charged horror that is constantly beating behind every page.  However, when Lee gets to his scenes of sex or horror (or a hefty mixture of the two) then he goes hell for leather at it.  Certainly not one of the author’s stronger novels, but still well worth a read.

The novel runs for a total of 341 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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