REVIEW: Filth – Obsidian Bookshelf & Wildfire Top Pick

It’s a twofer! Filth gets a cracking review from Obsidian Bookshelf, and lands the coveted Top Pick from staff at OmniLit/, with a feature in their Wildfire newsletter.

Filth was reviewed by Val Kovalin of Obsidian Bookshelf!

Ms. Kovalin praised “the precise, gritty, realistic details … the deep unselfconscious love between the characters … fine writing, strong plotting, and good pacing.”

“This novel is unforgettable for its glimpse of lives lived on the edge of death, boundless love, and immense inner strength.”

Review snippet:

“Kel and Toni are two young gay men, perhaps about 20 or 21 years old, in an unspecified American city. They are passionately in love, and have been together for one year. They have a small apartment but are just one missed rent-payment away from homelessness. … Kel, who is emotionally stronger, earns most of their money as a prostitute. Toni has recently secured a safe, if low paying, bookstore job. Even though he knows he’s lucky to have the job, he has the emotional immaturity and air of entitlement that characterizes many young people, and it makes him habitually tardy and snippy with his boss. That right there is only one of many realistic details in the story that show how a kid living day-to-day in the shadow of total annihilation can grow too complacent to see the urgency of his situation.

… Toni and Kel’s sex scenes are very hot, passionate, and masculine. Throughout the book, Toni gets referred to with feminine pronouns maybe 50% of the time to reflect his internal confusion, but it’s so skillfully done that it didn’t distract me as a reader.

… The characters undergo some significant evolution and gain new knowledge about themselves and their relationship. It’s a solidly written story with a satisfying ending that has an ultimately uplifting feeling. Highly recommended.”

Read the full review here.

Update: Filth also featured as Ms. Kovalin’s Top Pick in’s Wildfire newsletter this month:

“Filth by M. King is an interracial romance centering on two gay boys living in an American city. Both have been homeless, abused drugs, and worked as prostitutes. One year ago, they met at a free clinic and started a passionate relationship, which has stabilized them through their deep love for one another. However, the black kid Kel, the main breadwinner, still works as a prostitute. The white kid Toni has recently decided that he wants to become a male-to-female transsexual through cut-rate treatments, such as hormone pills from Mexico, which are already changing him. His transsexual friend wants him to leave Kel.

Meanwhile, Kel struggles with his opposition to Toni’s transformation, a plan that Toni is too defensive to discuss, while trying to support Toni emotionally and financially. He already mourns the loss of Toni as a man, and worries that soon he won’t want Toni if Toni becomes too feminine. Meanwhile, he risks his life whenever he sells his body, especially since a predator is stalking young male prostitutes. However, we readers can see through their scorching hot sex scenes as well as their inner strength during crisis that these two are meant to be together.

Filth is a novel of stunning emotional power written in alternating third-person viewpoints from Kel and Toni. While my synopsis may make it sound depressing, it is actually an uplifting story about the power of love. Its straightforward, understated tone saves it from melodrama or self-pity, and gives it a gritty, yet restrained, authenticity.

… One of the striking things about this story is the author’s ability to show us readers the extreme danger that haunts every move that Toni and Kel make in their everyday lives – a true peril that the two of them, through their youth and through too much familiarity with hardship, have grown unable to sense. As with many homeless young people in the city, both live every day on the edge of complete annihilation, and it makes for a deeply suspenseful read for those of us who may want to scream at them wake up and save themselves (if they can). This is a must-read, beautifully written story about characters who may stay in your memory for years to come, and it’s my Top Pick for this month.”

~ Wildfire, Vol. 4, Issue 156