Book Reviews

Review: The Despicable Fantasies of Quentin Sergenov (2021) by Preston Fassel

A tragically closeted ex-wrestler, who loses both his career and lover, is truly transformed after being turned into a dinosaur. Yep!

We center on Quentin Sergenov, a middle aged gay wrestler in the 90s who befriended recognition and is trying to reach its cold-shouldered sister, stardom. A tumultuous, hushed romance begins with his ring rival but sadly, his career and sexuality cannot coexist peacefully. He’s subsequently discriminated against and chastised from the ring. Being at rock bottom, he digs even further into the earth when he’s kidnapped by Nazi scientists and is transformed into a monster; a dinosaur, more specifically. Quentin somehow copes with his bizarre new life style comfortably until the chance to reunite with his lover overtakes every primal instinct he’s developed.

My heart ached for Quentin and trials he had to go through as a gay man. The author writes the protagonist with every ounce of humanity he could muster and drives home the longing and hurt we all feel when love rejects us. The backbone of identity and homophobia reveals very real problems in the world. This contrasts perfectly with the (*hopefully*) surreal idea of a man undergoing black market transformations into a prehistoric creature with human thoughts. This character can’t get a fucking break, emotionally or physically. For levity, this is all cushioned with the author’s devotion (dare I say obsession, Preston?) with the 1980s and nerd culture. It’s weird and wild and touching. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like this or with such a voice as this. The fearless protagonist proves to be a phoenix exploding through the ashes of an abusive childhood, a cruel midlife, a fantastically fucked up golden age. Claws and all.

Despicable is Fassel’s second novel/novella and tromps heavily through John Waters territory. He’s the deadly duo of having an insane imagination and the conciseness to explain all of it crystal clear. Having written for Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Screem, and The Daily Grindhouse (of which he’s now the managing editor), Preston knows a thing or two about horror. His debut novel, Our Lady of the Inferno, won the 2019 Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for Horror.

This title releases on June 1st, Pride Month kickoff. To better support the community, Encyclopocalypse Publications is donating 35% of its profits to the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the nation’s leading crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ individuals under the age of 25. The eye-catching cover art was also created by a Dallas-based LGBTQ artist.

To purchase this Encylopocalypse title, click HERE.

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