Kim Lakin-Smith’s debut novel, Tourniquet, is an intriguing read and becomes a decidedly different novel by the end. Ostensibly this is a novel of subcultures and layers of false belief but it becomes larger than its pieces of Goth and magic.
The break up of the deified supergroup, Origin, has the tribes of Renegade City in ruins, scrabbling to make whatever sense of their lives that they can. Druid, Origin’s drummer, tries to avoid the city with its lack of belief, convinced that he can find his own way to the core of Roses’ belief. Jezebel is interested in whoever killed her brother and tracks them down to the south quarter but what she finds will make a change in her.
Lakin-Smith’s prose, though occasionally a tad overwritten, is lyrical and well crafted. Evoking a sense of the nightlife and the tapestries which overlie the city, she gives a sense of the Romantic. There is a sense of the differing voices and the nuances of generational groups is intriguing and one that will be well known to anybody in a form of fandom. Perhaps this is where the best bits come out. Lakin-Smith writes from a position of respect and love. She patently lies the city and overlays it with the realities of various subcultures. Each provides a different mix of the same locale, coming together like the beats on an industrial track.
As each quester comes to the end of their journey, their self perceptions are challenged and altered. The journey means something to them unlike so many fantasy travels and the city shifts around them and endings and beginnings are found. It reminds very much of the Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu books which defined a world of subcultures of which the contemporary world was often unaware. One often makes the choice to be part of the alternate world or not.
Tourniquet grows out of its roots as another novel of Goths and subcultures, moving instead into Maupin’s Tales of the City. There is a sense that the city is larger and will outlast the tribes. If Lakin-Smith can continue being aware of this then the Tales of the Renegade City will be a series to read.