Below is my review.
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White Trash Warlock is the story of a geeky gay boy from a poor family, Adam Binder, in rural (Guthrie) Oklahoma who has a special gift of being able to see the spirit realm. Adam sees things that nobody else can see and as a result, he is shunned by everyone including most of his family. As a teenager it gets worse to the point he is committed to a “special school”, read psych ward until he finally turns 18 and can check himself out.
Adam is living with his old Aunt in a trailer park managing to eke out a meager existence doing odd jobs. Using his gift, he is on the hunt for someone practicing “dark magic” whom he suspects is his long-lost father. Out of nowhere, he gets a text from his brother pleading with him to come to Denver. Adam is perplexed by this since they haven’t spoken in years, but Aunt Sue encourages him to go.
In Denver, Adam discovers things are not what they should be, something very dark is happening and has affected his sister-in-law in a not so good way. Adam’s mother is staying with his brother in Denver where the family reunion is anything but cordial.
Adam learns more about the darkness by dream walking and discovering that his magic may not be powerful and that his other gifts are more of what is needed in the situation. In other words, he begins to see his self-worth. Sure, there are the “old tapes” playing about his family life and the apparent familial displeasure with him. That serves to give us the background to understand why Adam does what he does.
Adam eventually sees where he fits in the grand scheme of things as well as with the relationships he has in the “real” and spiritual world through understanding more of his gifts.
From the very beginning, I liked this book very much. It helps that we (as The Two Gay Geeks) had interviewed David R. Slayton and gotten to know him before reading it. David and I shared some Oklahoma stories, not on the podcast, so I was familiar with some of the background of the book. But, the world-building David does throughout the book is incredible. He has a way of describing things that lets you inhabit the world itself. The use of smells, tastes, and textures contributes to that sense of belonging. Having grown up in Eastern Oklahoma and traveled around in most of the rural areas, I could almost see the trailers, lakes, and woods he described. It definitely brought up old memories long stuffed into the recesses of my mind.
When Adam gets to Denver my frame of reference is very slight but not to worry. David continues with his excellent descriptive skills and makes you feel right at home. There is one phrase that stuck out at me and made me laugh hysterically. A fru-fru chair is being described with all of its over the top-ness which is an eyesore to a character who chuckles to himself as he envisions his children vomiting on it. The description was awesome.
On a side note, towards the end, a place is being described that is not named. I recognized it almost immediately as being the Denver location of a place I had lived blocks from in Tulsa, OK. I won’t give it away but anyone from Tulsa (or other parts of OK) or Denver will immediately recognize it.
It is very apparent that David has lived with these characters for some time now considering how well they are fully formed when introduced. There are times that we learn more about the characters as the character is learning themselves which is only natural. The little nuances to the characters are delivered in an almost off-hand matter of fact way that makes them even more compelling.
I like the way David has communicated to us that the characters have some very strong views of the relationships with the other characters they interact with. It is in that where we begin to see their growth as they interact and discover new information about each other.
All of the character and world-building culminates in a very satisfying look at an episode in the life of Adam Binder. There are some touchy and touching moments from a memory perspective, but it boils down to a story of self-acceptance, family (chosen and birth), and spiritual relationships.
If you are looking for a book that gives a feeling that this could all be real, then I highly recommend this book. The only negative thing is now that I am finished, I am saddened that there is not more to read.