November 28, 2012

Review: Poison Shy by Stacey Madden

Series: Stand-alone
Format: ARC (NetGalley) 
Release Date: September 26, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Brandon Galloway, a 29-year-old nobody with a history of dead-end jobs, lands a position with a pest control company. When he meets 21-year-old wild child Melanie Blaxley while fumigating her apartment for bed bugs, her vulgar sensuality and reckless promiscuity both attract and repulse him. Before long her world of crazy sex and petty crime starts to take its toll on Brandon’s sanity, and he wonders how much more of her he can stand. Then she disappears, and Brandon must find out if it is all just a prank, or if Melanie’s wild ways finally led her into danger. A hair-raising thrill ride through the bars and backstreets of a fictional small town, this fast-paced and darkly funny debut novel explores obsession, fear, and the threat of other people.

POISON SHY, Stacey Madden's debut novel is the kind of dark & disturbing story I am fond of reading, it's unfiltered, sarcastically funny and jagged brutally honest doesn't even begin to cut it. What started as a simple case of lust and loneliness escalated into a criminally tragic story that started one fateful day when Brandon Galloway fumigated Melanie Blaxely's apartment for bed bugs. 
I learned at a young age that my parents weren't the steady, reliable safeguards I'd once imagined them to be. Instead they were frail, selfish, and vengeful -- just like everyone else.
POISON SHY is told in Brandon's POV, his childhood alone has enough material for SMadden to write another sob-story what with a schizophrenic, bible thumping mother and a cheater for a father who abandoned them and ran off with his mistress. Naturally Brandon developed a certain pessimism for life but things started looking up when he met Melanie. But whatever dreams of hand-holding and long walks at the beach Brandon has was squashed down by Melanie on that first date with her crass sensuality and unapologetic behavior. Disgusting is the first word that comes to mind to describe their first "date" and I wouldn't call their relationship romantic either. Their affair is so screwed-up the highlights are a lot of pity-fucks, drunken sex and chlamydia that essentially bonded them in some weird way. And like most relationships forged in promiscuity and lies, Brandon and Melanie's ended before it even began. Tragically.
Bad decisions. That's what it came down to. Getting involved with Melanie was a bad decision.
I love SMadden's voice its sugar-free and tactless with succinct lamentations about life's misfortune, he had no qualms in creating real and human characters, people who pee, vomit, stink and shit for starters. You won't find romantic prose, long and winding rosy lines and dreams of HEA, just a swift punch in the gut that will disturb and grip you at the same time. No illusions of perfection here and he didn't try to romanticize the tragedies of life, POISON SHY plainly shows us that when people mess up, the effects are usually permanent and ugly. SMadden's debut is provocative in it's simplicity, it's one of those sorry illustrations that shit can happen to even the most innocent and unassuming guy, the only difference is POISON SHY was told in a very extraordinary way. As a reference, if you got a kick out of Crank by Ellen Hopkinds, you'll definitely would want to read this one.


  1. While the story sounds good, the bedbug fumigation is giving me some heebie-jeebies!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

    1. LOL it's one of those left field stories. Blue collar characters but it's really extraordinary

  2. I'm going to have to see if I can find this one. :)

    1. I think it's still up in NG. Short novel, like 170+ pages only but packed with some good and dark humanity stuff

  3. Awesome review, Braine! Every once in a while I like to read something that is unconventional and raw--something that captivates me yet makes me cringe at the same time--and this book sounds like it would do just that! Also, you had me at "pity-fucks, drunken sex and chlamydia".....haha! =P


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