Book: Sleep Alone
Author: J.A.W. McCarthy
Publisher: Off Limits Press
Genre: Queer/Novella/Demons/Body Horror
Why You Should Read It
Rock n’ roll sapphic succubi.
Why I Liked It
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a live band perform in a dive bar, definitely since the pre-covid days. In the early 2000’s, my BFF and I would haunt some of the most wonderfully scummy places from Tampa to Orlando in search of our fave indie bands, and honestly, I miss it. If you’re like me and are looking for a way to tap into a sweet hit of rock nostalgia, then J.A.W. McCarthy’s SLEEP ALONE was written just for you.
There’s something about vampires and rock stars that just kind of go together, but have also been done to death, so I was happily surprised to see that McCarthy’s monsters in this book were actually succubus. Ronnie is the main character in SLEEP ALONE, a likeably unlikeable character trying her best to keep her found family going. She’s the leader and maker/mother of a ragtag band of musicians who also happen to be succubi. Ronnie runs the merch table, the band runs the crowd, and in the end they all get to feed and quench their never ending hunger. Everything is going great until along comes the magnetic Helene to make Ronnie question everything about herself and existence.
I won’t tell too much about the plot and give anything away, but I will say that McCarthy’s writing is absolutely beautiful. If you’ve ever gone to a club in a dive bar, her descriptions will transport you back, and the romance author and reader in me truly appreciated the detail and description of the sweet and sapphic moments. Found family is a big theme in this story as in a lot of queer lit, and one thing that I think gets overlooked is that sometimes even the people you choose to have in your circle can turn on you, become assholes, or end up not really be compatible with you at all. People sometimes come into your life for a season or a reason, as they say, and this surprisingly heartwarming theme showed through in SLEEP ALONE.
Don’t worry, this wasn’t just some sentimental love story (which would have been just fine with me!) but a solid horror story. There was also lots of lovely body horror to sink my teeth into and gorgeous descriptions of gooey purple black gore. I also appreciated how this story tapped into succubus lore in an energy vampire sort of way. SLEEP ALONE delivers all of the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll with a sweet side order of sapphic love all wrapped up in the perfect novella length. Can’t wait to read more from J.A.W. McCarthy!