The Devil You Know - Poppy Z. Brite Initially I was disappointed to learn that Poppy Z. Brite had decided to leave her gothic fantasy world of New Orlean’s far behind in exchange for a toned down look at life from the point of view of the regular folks inhabiting New Orleans (mostly gay, hard-working cooks).

I really enjoyed those dark, graphically violent books ~ especially Exquisite Corpse (hmmm, what does that say about me?!). But once I began this book I found myself enjoying her new style which is much less purple in its prose and contains a heavy does of unexpected wit and very little of the supernatural (it’s still there in a few stories but much less the focus). The stories contained within this book concentrate more on the people, none of whom are vampires, and the local color of New Orleans and they’re all very interesting and slightly “odd” in their own way.

I even enjoyed “Nothing of Him That Doth Fade” which appears to be disliked by many readers. Yeah, it’s bleak and horribly sad but that’s the point. It paints a realistic portrait of a lovely love affair gone painfully bad. Love is like that sometimes.

“Pansu” is a favorite of mine. It’s bizarre and an oh-so-very-funny take on possession and exorcism. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories featuring coroner Dr. Brite (the last, about a child, was tough for me to read at times but worth the effort in the end) and I’m anxiously awaiting Poppy’s next novel “Liquor” (many of the stories here feature characters from that upcoming novel). The only story that left me cold was the one set in the Matrix universe “System Freeze”. I’m not a crazed Matrix fan and I’m sure that explains my lack of enthusiasm for this story. It was just an “eh” read for me, the details have already flown completely out of my head. “Burn Baby Burn” set in the “Hellboy” universe worked much better for me.

Make sure you’re not hungry before starting the stories because most contain delectable descriptions of New Orleans cuisine.