Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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Dungeons and Drag Queens is a half-naked Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of bizarro fiction. For the noobs, bizarro fiction, in a nutshell, means anything goes. Reader beware, this novel is not for the faint of heart. MP Johnson’s novel begins fierce and doesn’t stop.
Sleazella LaRuse is an MC to be reckoned with—partially afraid, partially pissed at being sucked into a new world, but all queen, she doesn’t let a little thing like geography get in her way. Seek not a damsel in distress, or Miss LaRuse will send you on your way with a flip of her radioactive pink hair and witty retort. She brings to mind one of my favorite drag stars, John Waters’ avant garde darling, Divine.
In true bizarro fashion, Sleazella is confronted by a host of the unusual, the gross, and the ridiculous: wolf-like creatures with nipple mouths, blood storms, and orgy-like battles are just the tip. (See what I did there?) What could easily become a caricature of badassery is balanced by snippets into the life of the man beneath the makeup and glitter. Readers are drawn to the relatable struggles of a gay man wanting to be accepted for who he is inside—the incomparable Sleazella. These snippets are far from cheesy and, in fact, only help to build Sleazella as a developed character. Gems like, “It wasn’t about the dancing or the makeup, but the building of a glamorous fortress behind which to hide a fragile heart,” showcase Johnson’s literary style delicately laced within the bizarro.
Dungeons and Drag Queens has the feel of an epic fantasy with new worlds and cultures to explore. While the foreign land isn’t full laid out, there is enough to get a feel for the environment and orient the reader in Sleazella’s story without being distracted from the action. Being a reader that tends to shy away from the typical sword and sorcery novel, I was pleased by the way Johnson orients the reader in the world—a little at a time, and with only the details that are important.
And it’s the details that seem to be Johnson’s specialty. The visualization is well thought out and wonderfully executed. Some of it makes you laugh out loud (like much of the rest of the book) and the rest turns your stomach, but all serve to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Tone and intonation of the narrative are the glitter on top.
Overall, Dungeons and Drag Queens in a fun, short read with a dozen surprises along the way. If, by the end of it, you’re not aching to see what Sleazella LaRuse does next, I’m sure she’d have a few choice words for you—all of them fierce and fabulous.