Alright guys, let’s talk. Have you ever seen the movie Cruel Intentions? So in that film, the main character is Sebastian, and as the film progresses, we come to realize that behind his bad boy, a-hole persona, he’s actually a big softie. The main character of Black Heart Boys’ Choir is Lucien and he is basically Sebastian but before we find out he’s a softie. I hated Lucien. He sounded like a trilby-and-suit-wearing-incel with no concept of others’ emotions and no thoughts on what’s right and wrong. He acted like a goodie-goodie know-it-all and I really loathed him. To be fair, I don’t think that the author intended for us to like Lucien.
I love the finishing-the-unfinished-work trope. I am also a musician and I can really appreciate the concept here of needing to finish a score. It’s unique and compelling. The book started out really interesting and the ending was truly terrifying. But the entire middle of the book just kind of canceled out the things I liked about the beginning and the end. The book began at the end and then went back to tell us how things ended that way. And I think that that format was great for this book. I really loved Lawson’s writing style as well. I think that his character descriptions were great and he gave most of the relationships between these characters a really unique feel.
Now, even if I were to look past the main character that I hated or the middle of the book that didn’t really do much for me, there is still one thing that I just couldn't look past. There is a demon unicorn.
Let me say that again because I want to make sure you hear me on this one.
I know that it hasn’t been done before and that unicorns are not really used that much in horror. I get it. But every time this unicorn demon was on the page and I was supposed to be scared and unnerved, I really just couldn't take it seriously. I think that demons in books can be scary. And I think that demons asking you to do things for them so you can finish some cursed score of music can be scary as well. But as soon as I am picturing this demon as a unicorn in my mind’s eye, I don’t find it even a little scary.
Honestly, if this book played out without any demons and it was just Lucien doing the same things without any of this unicorn occult nonsense, I would have loved this book. Lucien could have been a terrifying character that I hated but couldn’t stop reading about. And just the struggle between the popular kids at his new school and Lucien’s group of friends would have been enough motive for Lucien to do the things that played out in this book. But when this unicorn comes into the picture, I really just feel bad for Lucien. And feeling bad for him just makes me dislike him more because he still has to act like the smartest guy in the room who is just too smart for school or girls or adults. And speaking of girls, I don’t even know how to describe the relationship, if you can even call it that, between Lucien and his flame in this story. It’s really confusing from either character's point of view. Does he actually like her? We will never know.
As far as recommending this book goes, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is out of high school. I think this book is far more suited to, say, a freshman in high school who is fine with a little gore. There is a very serious subject in this book that I won't spoil for you, and the unicorn demon may be a great way to approach that subject with teens in that age range. I’m going to give this book 2.75 stars (rounded up to 3 for Goodreads). The ending was great and the writing was wonderful. But all of that didn’t make up for how I felt about the main character, unicorn demon or the entire middle section of the book.