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Psychotropic Dragon
Michael Bailey. Written Backwards, $19.95 trade paper (356p) ISBN 978-1-73559-818-5
Bram Stoker Award winner Bailey (Palindrome Hannah) takes readers on a chilling, hallucinatory journey through an abused woman’s psyche. As a young adult in Washington State, Julie Stipes picks up men in bars to steal their money so she can buy Drakein-5 (or D), a psychotropic street drug diluted in Visine and dropped in the eyes for an instantaneous rush. One day she follows a mark named Elliot to his home, only for the duo to be accosted by a man with a shotgun who demands they have sex in front of him and for Julie to inject herself with undiluted D. Overdosing, she endures horrific flashbacks to her abusive childhood, during which she was sexually molested by her father rejected by her disapproving mother, and turned to self-injury as a coping mechanism. After the assailant—who Julie comes to believe is her father, despite his reported suicide in prison years before—kills Elliot, Julie flees and wanders the streets working out her trauma through surreal, nonlinear hallucinations of her family, a ghost child named Hannah, and her dead pet tarantula, Reese. Told in a series of fables and flashbacks, the circuitous account of Julie’s troubled soul reflects her anxiety but also her dauntless will power and determination. Though the nonlinear storytelling can be hard to follow, there’s no denying this dark tale thrills with unnerving dread, hopelessness, and heartache. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 11/24/2023

Release date 09/01/2021