Bloody Baudelaire, by R.B. Russell

Reviewed by Matt Johns

This slim but beautifully bound tome is a bit of an oddity. Part supernatural chiller, part what feels like 1920s society observation, it tells the story of Lucian Miller and the time he spent at Cliffe House with Miranda and her pretentious partner, Gerald. Obsessed with the 19th century French poet, Charles Baudelaire, Gerald earns a living as an artist mainly painting nudes of his partner. Miranda is far from obsessed with Baudelaire, and despises Gerald’s constant quotes of his work, hence the titular outburst “Bloody Baudelaire!”

Lucian discovers that the decadent Gerald and Miranda’s relationship is not as happy as it first appears, and soon develops his own obsession with Miranda. When Gerald storms out of the house after losing at poker with Lucian, the relationship between Lucian and Miranda intensifies. Despite Lucian’s obvious desires, it never leaves the metaphysical.

While intelligently written, it was hard to relate to or sympathise with the characters, who all felt very typical of a 1920s novel – decadent, shallow, bored with life and each other. I did, however, enjoy the tale, especially the way the reader is left to infer the supernatural element, instead of it being waved very obviously under the reader’s nose.

Bloody Baudelaire, by R.B. Russell, Ex Occidente Press, $30.