Steve is jaded, working hard but passed over for promotion more than once, unable to find love, and frustrated by his neighbor who plays the same song on repeat at full volume.
Nathan is said neighbor, though the two men have never met. Nathan has been wallowing in his own unhappiness since his partner, Rob, moved out of their apartment, taking all of their belongings. Nathan is unemployed, has no gas or electricity, and sits on his only piece of furniture, a mattress, torturing himself by playing his and Rob’s song continually.
After another disappointing day at work, Steve returns home, only to be driven into his bedroom by the incessant music playing from the adjoining apartment. Steve feels his anger rising, frightened by his reaction and the strange appearance of a doll on his bed, which unbeknownst to him bears an uncanny resemblance to Nathan. Steve feels compelled to start banging angrily on his neighbor’s wall and thus Nathan and Steve meet.
Although their meeting is tense, with Steve raving about voices and a doll, little do they know that their paths will merge as they go on the run in an attempt to escape the voodoo curse apparently placed on Nathan, and their lives are going to change forever.
Save Me is unlike any run-of-the-mill contemporary gay romance. Penny Brandon has written a suspenseful novel, which is utterly compelling and I found myself finishing it in one sitting.
Steve and Nathan are the protagonists, but the novel is really centered around the voodoo doll who appears intent on causing Nathan harm. It is easy to ridicule a story that features a murderous doll only made from crude materials, but Brandon really makes Save Me work. I became totally sucked in by the palpable fear felt by Steve and Nathan, finding it totally conceivable that a doll could be responsible.
As someone who has suffered from depression, I perhaps related to Save Me on a level that the author did not intend; depression is the demon who feeds off negative emotions and who is not content until the sufferer is destroyed.
Both Steve and Nathan are complex characters who I cared about more as the story develops. Their feelings for each other are really the only thing that they have control over and I could believe that these emotions are genuine. I wanted Steve and Nathan to be safe and their romance offers some relief from the tension and danger which dominates the plot of Save Me.
Save Me is clever, fast-paced, and gripping. It would be an ideal book choice for readers who enjoy horror or thrillers with an edge. I really look forward to reading the next book in Penny Brandon’s Voodoo Dolls series.