Satan’s Fanclub, by Mark Kirkbride
Publisher: Omnium Gatherum
Author: Mark Kirkbride
Overall Review: 4/5 – Very Good
Reviewed by: Sandra Scholes
Growing up in Dorset, Mark Kirkbride studied English at Kingston and Thomas Hardy at Oxford. He writes poetry and fiction having written for the Big Issue, The Morning Star, The Mirror and various anthologies.
In this, his first novel, published by Omnium Gatherum (the same publishers who released Chris Kelso’s The Black Dog Eats the City), Satan’s Fan Club starts with twins James and Louise being told about a secret club where they can do anything they want, throwing off the shackles of responsibility, a boring home life and parental expectations. They like the idea that they can do what they feel like – this club means a sense of freedom that they haven’t felt before and as the man says at the start, “Don’t you ever feel like throwing off society’s shackles, its straitjacket, and running amok?” I suppose most of us have thought this at some point, but when the entry requirement is killing your nearest and dearest, it’s not surprising that most of us would also have second thoughts. Not that the two protagonists of this story do at first.
Filled with a loathing for his parents, James enjoys watching his collection of famous movies like American Psycho, Hannibal Rising, 1980, Border Crossing, Crash and Lord of the Flies, and has the choice to kill his parents if he wants to enter the club of choice for young rebellious teenagers who want free of their shackles. While a spate of murders is occurring in the area where they live, James’s parents are oblivious to the thoughts in his mind, and the fact he just might be having sex with his sister.
The twins hear about the club from their friend, Colin, who’s having a party where they meet Nick who’s dressed up like the devil. At first they think it is a normal club until they get there. The title isn’t the meaning of the story; the real meaning is about family life and what happens in it. While a serial killer is on the loose and relatively unknown to everyone, even the police, the twins set about trying to get into the club for real. Its setting is what makes it a different novel on the consequences of being twin siblings in a relationship.
For a debut novel, Mark Kirkbride manages to charm the reader with his honest and unabashed prose.