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The names Justine and Juliette could be familiar to the reader from the works of de Sade. Justine is the humble, religious sister, who suffers passively from the hand of faith, always hoping for a better future. While Juliette embraces her inner slut and tries to manipulate everyone with her sexual tricks. It is clear that Manzetti used de Sade's girls as a model for his own sisters. The novel takes place in an apocalyptic future, the last days of Earth and humanity. Overpopulation, poverty, lethal diseases, hunger and rampant violence and madness. Justine and Juliette are sixteen years old sisters who are sold to the greedy Madame of a bordello. The story follows their ordeals and adventures which are mostly deviant sexual activities. This main plot is often interrupted by separate short scenes and stories which paint a picture about life in general in this decaying future world. The big problem with this book is the writing style. Alessandro Manzetti has published poems too, and his poetry is obvious in his prose too. He doesn't write anything simply and cleanly, he puts endless similes and metaphors in every scene, but it often just feels forced and makes the novel confusing and hard to read. Especially when sometimes he breaks off in the middle of a scene to start telling us some unrelevant thing or happening. This novel absolutly lacks natural flow, you need every ounce of your concentration to understand what is happening exactly or what is he talking about. In this regard this book is somewhat similar to Burroughs' Naked Lunch. If you like brooding over dark poems and doesn't mind a slow read or frequent interruptions, then maybe you will like this novel too.
Alessandro Manzetti is an author whose poetry I greatly admire. This review steps away from his poetry and enters the realms of extreme horror. Shanti: The Sadist Heaven is not a book for everyone. If your sensibilities are offended by graphic sex, acts of depravity, cannibalism, and other such extremes please stay away! Those of you that are familiar with the Marquis de Sade will know what to expect. Yeah, it’s extreme!
The story takes place in a futuristic Paris where anarchy reigns and survival of the fittest is the only way to exist. Juliette and Justine are orphaned sisters who are sent to Sainte Marie College which is run by a transgender madame. Here the sisters are to be taught what it takes to get ahead in this apocalyptic world. One sister will thrive in this new no-holds-barred environment while the other clings to hope while enduring the basest of defilements. Amongst the ruins of what once was lies Shanti the Holy City, only a few are allowed to pass through its gates.
This is an extremely intense story. One that could have gone in another direction that would have made it pure smut. But… this is written by a Bram Stoker award-winning author that really knows how to write! Manzetti is a true artist that can speak of the most vilest of acts and yet, there is a lyrical quality that makes it all sound so beautiful. His way with language keeps the words flowing and the pacing spot-on.
For me, not usually a fan of extreme horror I can say that I enjoyed this story. Those of you that are into this type of horror will not be disappointed. The quality of writing and the ability to make sense of the depravity which occurs in keeping within the context of the story has me giving this book a 5-star rating.
I had many long hours of travel last week, but I wasn’t bored. I read Shanti by Alessandro Manzetti and the miles and hours vanished like the suffering people in his tale. It’s not light reading and I advise the squeamish and easily frightened to stay away from this world.
But for the less timid among us, Shanti is a wonderful, horrible story. It reads like poetry that spins the spasmodic dance of mortality into a ballet. The word play is beautiful. There were sentences I stopped to savor, rolling the puzzle of words across my mind to extract every bit of nuance. Lovely words knit together to make brilliant tapestries of horror… the scenarios Manzetti creates threaten to haunt the reader long after the final page.
No boundaries stand in this book and nothing is sacred. Manzetti explores every aspect of depravity along these pages through the combined voice of the inhabitants of Paris, or what is left of it. Possibly the most frightening part of the story is the fragments of ourselves we see mirrored in Manzetti’s alien Paris.
Between the smoking, chemical rains perversion finds a way to survive, preying on the defenseless. It is a world of eat, or be eaten in a diseased landscape that whispers to us of now, our present day. It warns us of what we might be, given the right push. Worst of all, it questions what we might want to be.
This is not a book for everyone. It is not a book for most. It is a book for those brave enough to delve into the worst of humanity. Those who resurface will have treasure.
Necro is extreme reading. I normally enjoy their books. It’s practically the home of Ed Lee an author I love. I just can’t stomach a book with so much child torture porn in it. Boys and girls getting tortured, sodomized, and raped is not literature . If someone can change my mind about the subject matter I will change my review. Sadism and hell is no reason to publish a book rife with kids being used in the way the author has.
This is one crazy horrific read, not for the faint of heart. Graphic to a horror standard and beyond, I sat through it and somehow survived it. It is quite disturbing but delivers the story of hope fow the two orphans.