SLASH is a serial novel to be published in seven episodes, with this review covering the first three. Alexis Bledsoe is a twenty–one–year–old actress playing Stephie Koop, the teenaged younger sister in Koop’s Kitchen, America’s number one family drama television show since 1998. Despite her coveted role and being constantly surrounded by other cast members, Alex is emotionally isolated. She’s a closeted lesbian secretly infatuated with her shallow nineteen–year–old castmate Lissa Blaine, who plays Stephie’s older teenaged sister Martha. Due to this awkward situation, Alex vents her romantic and sexual frustrations by addictively reading slash fiction (fan fiction that imagines the characters in mostly homoerotic scenes) about Koop’s Kitchen. Yet her private pastime takes on a new level of curiosity when the more perverted slash stories at kkslash.net start to portend the deaths of minor actors from the show. Alex sleuths for clues about the killer, learning the idiosyncrasies of her castmates.
There’s really no good reason for criticism. Though the plot just sounds campy in summary, the writing is quite advanced. SLASH is an exquisite combination of murder mystery, metafiction, and tragicomedy. Kingston often shuns the “Show, don’t tell” tenet of fiction writing—and he does it beautifully. The murder mystery is interesting and humorous, but the story excels more because of its strongly character–driven nature. Alex is a pleasing protagonist, but Evan Kingston also makes you feel what it’s like to be each other character whose bittersweet backstory is described. In particular, Kingston captures well the isolating experience of being homosexual and closeted. The story also delves into issues of drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, the stresses of celebrity life, and family dysfunction. Of course, these issues have been handled many times before in fiction, but SLASH is written with such adeptness that reading this story is a transcendent experience.
SLASH is a masterfully done serial novel that anyone who appreciates well–written fiction should find to be an enriching read, artfully both comedic and dramatic.
Reviewed by Christopher James Dubey for IndieReader.