“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly. – Mary Howitt
K.Z. Snow has done it again, written a beautiful and compelling book, of which there’ve been way more than a few that I’ve loved over the years, this one a story of the quiet strength born of the horror of lives darkened by the taint of men who preyed upon children, adults who abused their authority and seduced two impressionable young boys into their sickly webs, stealing their innocence and making them victims, only for Dare Boothe and Jonah Day to be left years later without the satisfaction of justice nor the ability to forget the Situations and Incidents that left them with capital I-Issues.
Both in their mid-twenties now, the two men have done their best to survive, has each gone his own way in trying to reconcile his past with the present; Dare by allowing his sexually fluid persona, Pepper Jack, to come to life on the stage at the Sugar Bowl; Jonah by recovering from alcoholism and the relentless promiscuity that covered for the fact the sexual abuse he’d suffered left him unsure of who he was. Until he met Dare and they each confessed their pain and shared their fears and anger, and eventually began a slow dance of absolution set to a music written only for them.
I love, love, loved this story of hope sprung from the depths of tragedy, of love grown in a common ground, of healing begun in a light that eclipses a dark past. In spite of the serious subject, K.Z. Snow never gets heavy handed in the telling of the story, never reduces the characters to the single dimension of their shared horrors, and manages not to take this story into what could very well have been an overwrought melodrama. Xylophone does its job perfectly—shows the feral and predatory nature of child sex offenders, demonstrates how easily the Spider tempts the Fly to its web by preying on weaknesses and feeding on needs, but, in the end, celebrates the triumph of love over that terrible evil.