Kiss the Goat
by Brian Stableford
Review by Steve Sawicki
Prime Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0809544849
Date: 31 May, 2005 List Price $29.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
This is an interesting novella-length work which wanders a bit over plot areas that seem to be converging, socially speaking. The story revolves around Kit, a young woman who has left home, for a number of reasons, to make her way in the world and is finding it a bit more difficult than imagined, based in part on the haunted nature of the room she's renting. Kit involves Stephen in trying to solve the haunting when she catches a, shall I say, hauntingly familiar tune leaking from his discman. Stephen's a soon to be graduate from the local college while Kit is a bus driver so the chemistry is a bit wonky. Stephen decides to help Kit, perhaps mostly because she's female and he's geeky but partly because he's an art major and this is most likely more interesting than anything else he'll ever do.
Soon enough they've discovered that Kit inhabits a house that used to be a bordello and the haunting is coming from a Satan worshipping, young, heavy metal rock and roll influenced hooker. We are not long for this discovery though, as now, paraphrasing an appropriate source, it's time for something completely different. Just when you thought you were heading in a certain direction the rug gets pulled out from under you and a new, albeit dead, character is introduced. I won't say more than this in order to avoid any spoilers but will say that the whole thing hangs together in an odd, British kind of way.
I should note that Stableford is British and it is reflected in the writing, the use of language and the culture and history which underlies the characters. This is not a bad thing, just a different thing and it can throw a reader who is not quite prepared for having to translate what otherwise looks like a familiar language.
The book has good flow, even with Stableford's authorial observations which are somewhat thinly disguised as expository excursions. This is not a problem when the author has something interesting to say. A number of these are existential in nature, which actually fit with the premise of the book, although that won't be clear until the ending. I read the book in a single sitting which tells me that there's a story here to hold the attention and enough of a plot to back up what's being told. I enjoyed reading English for a change and while I did struggle once or twice in having to figure out the culture it was not, overall, much of a problem. An interesting book, especially if you're paying attention to the recent spate of ghost stories being put out by atypical writers.