Another Satisfied Customer of Love Potion #666

Illustration by Jorge Iracheta

This review is dedicated to Jimmy Whiskers.

Have you ever felt whiplash from reading a book? Have you ever seen a fully realized film in your head from reading a book? Have you ever read a book that left you turned on, disgusted, sad, and slightly optimistic? If you haven’t then hot damn do I have the book for you. From filmmaker/author/GenreBlast Director/GenreBlast Books co-founder Nathan D. Ludwig, based on characters from GenreBlast Books co-founder Chad Farmer, comes Love Potion #666

GenreBlast Books sets out to, “highlight genre fiction that revels in the weird, the absurd, the transgressive, the violent, and the subversive. Stories without limits or agendas,” by, “publish[ing] what we want when we want.” If that doesn’t sound metal, I don’t know what does. Ludwig and Farmer are prime examples of people who wanted a certain product, realized it wasn’t there, and then created that product themselves.

Love Potion #666 follows recent parolee Leanna Forsythe and her, wannabe filmmaker, partner Mikey Rundgren, as they set out on a bloody tale of death and destruction. Their end game? Get her mother’s love potion in the hands of an El Chapo-esque drug kingpin named Drakesworth. Leanna’s vengeful mother Teena will do everything she can to get the love potion back, and if she can salvage the relationship with her daughter, then win-win. Also on Leanna’s tail is a handful of dopey assassins, and before them is a wild group of characters straight out of a Jack Hill movie. 

“Bad blood doesn’t fix right.”

Love Potion #666 second edition cover
Illustration by Jorge Iracheta

Nathan Ludwig’s second edition of his debut novel takes no prisoners and drags readers kicking and screaming through America’s Bible Belt. If words could kill, we’d all be six feet under. Love Potion #666 is garishly enthralling, constantly teetering the line between bad taste and offensive. Unlike Matt Shaw, Ludwig’s words and colloquialisms may be offensive at face value, but there is no harm within the subtext. What reveals an author’s ill intent is how they handle the characters and their syntax. Again, unlike Matt Shaw, Ludwig creates offensive scenarios and character arcs, while still keeping everything within the scope of his characters. At no point do Ludwig’s questionable words ring personally. 

One of the most intriguing characters where this is exemplified is Ricky Richards. Ricky is a low-rate hitman who just feels like he is covered head to toe in grime. He doesn’t mince his words and puts his get-the-job-done-at-any-cost emotions heartily on his sleeve. This character has little to no redeeming qualities, except for his insatiable love for Sharnell, his transgender lover. Say what you will about, or to, Ricky, but demean his lover in any way, shape, or form, and your ass is grass. 

Love Potion #666 is a rowdy, sleazy, horny, disgusting grindhouse book; I loved [almost] every second of it. Admittedly, I am an incredibly slow reader. Maybe it’s partly due to a constant need for external stimulus—I find silence beyond deafening. At no point while reading Love Potion #666 did I find myself sidetracked. From page one, I was hooked. Nathan Ludwig’s prose and style create a hyper-specific visual story that’s almost as addicting as Teena’s fuck drug. Mark this book down as the first EVER book I read in one sitting. It was a long sitting, but one nonetheless. Each character’s snappy dialogue dictates an editing style akin to a Gareth Huw Evans fight scene. On a side note, Ludwig wrote a specific scene that can only be described as the closest thing humans can come to creating a real-life Shunting. 

Oh and shout out to Nathan Ludwig for making me read the word “feltch” for the first time in about five years. Thanks for that!

“Knowing the one you love is rotten and loving them anyways.”

Leanna is an impressively crafted character. Since it’s unclear, knowing about the character creation, which parts of Leanna were created by Nathan Ludwig or Chad Farmer, this will be a general ‘props to you’. Nearly every bit of Leanna seems irredeemable. She’s narcissistic, pessimistic, and one tough sunofab*tch. If I incurred a hundredth of the physical pain Leanna deals with, my story would have ended by about chapter three. There’s this great dichotomy in Leanna’s personal struggles, and even when she’s crass, or a straight-up detriment to society, you can feel her wanting to change. What she wants to change is clear and questionable, but there’s a teddy bear deep within Leanna…somewhere. This raises the question of how far will, or can, someone go to get their life on track. Only, there’s a derailed train up around the bend. 

Love Potion #666 is a Roman Empire orgy of debauchery, broken teeth, and voodoo; a fever dream that exists somewhere in the realm of SyFy’s Blood Drive. You will not be comfortable reading Love Potion #666 and that’s where its charm lays. Nathan D. Ludwig pushes the boundaries in every sense imaginable, even the MPAA would have to create a new rating if this were ever to be adapted into a feature film. I can comfortably posit this novel may be unfilmable. And that’s rad as hell. The second edition of Love Potion #666 is a book every genre fan should have on their shelves and would be an excellent teaching tool in any college-level creative writing course.

Written by Brendan Jesus

Brendan is an award-winning author and screenwriter. His hobbies include magnets, ghouls, and finding slugs after a fresh rain.

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