Visible Friend

Title: Visible Friend
Author: K.Z. Snow
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon:
Genre:Paranormal/Fantasy M/M
Length:  Novella/160 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Review Summary: Chris’s journey to sobriety was tough but Denny made it worthwhile.

THE BLURB

Christopher Borgasian has spent the last seven months painstakingly breaking up with a lover he’s adored for three years: heroin. Now he’s trying to make it on his own—without the drugs, without the family that rejected him for being gay, and, seemingly, without a friend in the world.

The night before Chris leaves a sober-living facility to pursue his uncertain future, a stranger named Denny shows up in his room. From then on, Denny returns whenever Chris needs him the most, always vanishing as mysteriously as he appears. Chris desperately needs emotional and physical intimacy, but who is Denny, really? And can Chris believe in him when it also means believing in unconditional love?

THE REVIEW

Visible Friend is the story of Chris and the drug that held him hostage – heroin, and his best friend Denny who came into his life when he most needed him. Chris had used drugs since his teens when his parents rejected him on account of  his sexual orientation after he came out in junior high. He started with marijuana, ecstasy and anything else he could get his hands on until he graduated to heroin and became an intravenous drug user for 3 years. After he hit bottom he decided to enter detox and rehab in order to kick the habit.  On his last night at the sober living center he woke up from a deep sleep and saw a man in his room who he didn’t recognize, even though the man told him that his name was Denny which had a familiar ring. Denny tried to give him a present of plum blossoms but Chris was so freaked out he raised the alarm, but by the time some of the other residents arrived the man had disappeared without a trace except for a plum blossom on his bed.

Visible Friend is told from Chris’s third person POV and Denny’s 1st person POV and they worked well in the context of the story. The first part of the book where Chris is shooting up with his friend Winston is pretty graphic, however, except for one other scene the book is mostly about Chris trying to live in the normal world where drugs play no part in his life, but he soon discovered that there’s a hierarchy even with people who are recovering addicts — they too hated gays. At his first FAR meeting he met a man, Troy, to whom he was immediately attracted but he got his signals crossed and was summarily rejected by Troy.  When he told the attendees at another FAR meeting that he was gay, many of them weren’t welcoming either.

After his first meeting Chris was so depressed he called his old druggie friend Winston who came with all his drug paraphernalia and Chris was desperate enough he was tempted to shoot up, but just as he was about to Denny showed up again and Chris realized he was not a figment of his imagination but a real person. But was he real even though he could touch him? After he sent Winston away Chris remembered his imaginary friend Denny who had come into his life in response to his prayer for a special friend, and they were inseparable until Chris drove him away. Denny and Chris had met when Chris was 4 years old  and as Chris grew older so did Denny but no one else could see Denny. When Chris started using drugs Denny seemed to disappear from his life except for very occasional visits, but very soon after he started living on his own Denny re-appeared. However Chris didn’t recognize the 24 year old man who showed up in his apartment and told him to leave. Was the adult Denny the same person he knew as a child? If he wasn’t how did he know so much about Chris’s past? If he was his friend from childhood and he let him back into his life how would he fit in?

 This is a very poignant story of a man trying to recover from a drug habit of 9 years, who was also dealing with having no sexual outlet and no friends since there weren’t many gay men in Cold Harbor where he lived. His life was barren, his emotions were fragile and he was always one step away from giving in to the drugs again, as we experience the temptations that he has to overcome. Recovery from any  addiction is a daily process and Chris lived his life one day at a time since he could only cope with so much. K.Z. Snow tackles subjects that not many M/M authors explore because they expose the seedy underbelly of life that few of us want to experience, even if it’s only in a book.

Chris’s character is vulnerable and needy and at times it seemed that he had lost his sense of direction and focus. But the track marks were a constant reminder that he was an addict and would remain so for the rest of his life and one slip would put him back where he didn’t want to be, on the streets. Denny is probably one of the most innocent characters I have experienced in a while and both he and Chris grew a lot in the short space of time that the story covered. Chris had to come to terms with his feelings for Denny when it seemed that he could lose him, and Denny became a real person by changing his role in Chris’s life as he evolved and the power shifted between them and he took control of his life. The sex between them was wonderful and just right and was another brick in the wall for both characters. The  paranormal aspect to the story was inspired  and I fell completely under Denny’s spell and wished that he had a much bigger role. Chris’s journey, like those of other addicts, would be a lifelong one but I felt that with Denny in his life he would never regress.

Visible Friend was a good story but the epilogue made it wonderful.

Highly recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

14 comments

  • Great review!
    I really liked this book, but the epilog made me love it!
    It suprised me how the epilog changed the whole feel of the book for me, and made it truly memorable.

    Reply
    • Hi Ailish
      Isn’t it amazing how we all love the epilogue? Usually I don’t care for them but in this case it really wrapped up the story in great fashion.

      Reply
  • I have to agree with what everyone’s been saying about that epilog. It actually brought tears to this jaded reader-reviewer’s eyes, and that never happens!

    Great review, Wave. I think we had a similar reading experience. I was so impressed by this story. The realism surrounding the drug use and support meeting environment pulled me completely under the spell of the book.

    And the experimentalism with the alternating of 1st and 3rd person viewpoints, past and present tense, and supernatural touches with the overall realism — all that is something I’d usually balk at, but the author handled it with immense skill. I was never lost or jolted out of the story. And the two main characters were so appealing! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Val
      I really liked how the POV’s worked in the story and like you I wasn’t pulled out of the story with the alternating first and third and present tense. I have read a few stories with present tense and I’m liking them. 🙂

      That epilogue seems to have caught all of us unaware and for me it made me re-think epilogues as a whole, because most of the time they don’t work. However in Visible Friend it was just perfect.

      Reply
  • “Visible Friend was a good story but the epilogue made it wonderful.”

    That’s it exactly, Wave. That epilogue was just so full of win that it even got me off my lazy arse enough to email KZ to tell her how awesome I thought it was. 😀

    Reply
  • I so liked this story. The fact that Chris was a Lovecraft fan made me like him more. I wanted to learn more about Denny, but regardless this was a great story and the epilogue made me tear up.

    Reply
    • Hi Luci
      It seems that we all wanted more of Denny. He was so sweet and innocent. Chris was also a wonderful character and I hope that their HEA is really forever. lol

      Reply
  • I loved this story exactly because she explored a subject unfortunately not many authors do, but I also loved how she gave it a fantasy feel as well. And I choked up when I read the epilogue. Thanks for the review 🙂

    Reply
    • KZ is a trail blazer and I love her stories because she always stretches and doesn’t go with the flow.

      As I said in the review, the epilogue was inspired. 🙂

      Reply

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