4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to readers who like their fiction wickedly classic and modern at the same time
Publisher: Roadswell Editions
If there was ever a set of books in which I wished I could live within its pages, Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy and it's sequel The Mercury Waltz would be it! The intoxicatingly dark settings, the edgy and charismatic characters, they still call to me in the quiet moments, after all this time.
Where Under the Poppy found Istvan and Rupert spending most of their time in its namesake brothel and dealing with the unruly underground population, The Mercury Waltz finds our main men hiding out in the open in a new city where they continue to put their puppets to good use, this time producing and directing gruesome, gutsy plays in their cozy new theater. Still upsetting the masses - audience and competing theaters alike - Istvan and Rupert are never short of trouble. Hell, they seem to welcome it. And nothing good ever seems to come of it. But the boys will be boys, and happily so.
I loved slipping back into that familiar tension as Istvan and Rupert continue to pull and push at each other, their seductive, unhealthy, elusive lust for one another tested time and time again by new, outside love interests, which seemed to fan the flames of their love, rather than douse them out.
Reading The Mercury Waltz felt a bit like running into old friends on the street, dragging them to the nearest hole-in-the-wall bar, and throwing back a few as you catch each other up till the wee hours of the morning. Once they are standing right in front of you, you realize how much you've missed their face. And you just want to stretch out the moments you have together, to make it last as long as possible, because you know once you let them head out that door, once their feet hit the street, there is no guarantee of ever seeing them again. So you breathe in every... last... second.