“You have to be careful what you wish for. What you think you want, may be more than you can handle.” ~ unknown
The rock band Desolation Angel, from 'Desolation Angel' by Layla Dorine, is much more than a group of men who write and play music together. Paul, Mark, and Tommy are in a committed relationship; Sionn, a lifelong friend, and Dare, Tommy's younger brother, also live in the same house and regard each other as family. They are extremely close and what affects one affects them all, which in many ways is a positive thing, and in others causes problems. Through no fault of his own, Dare's behavior has an enormous impact on the family. Although he's a beautiful, talented, charismatic performer, who writes all the fantastic music for the band, it comes at a high price. Dare experiences the notes and lyrics of his songs in daydreams, during which, he is literally oblivious to everybody and everything around him. Needless to say, this causes his family a great deal of concern for his safety.
Dare hates the fact that he's not “normal”. He feels like he's a burden to everyone involved and it bothers him to no end. The thing is, without drugging him completely out and making him a zombie, the dreams won't stop. On one hand they are a gift and on the other a curse. The thing is, Dare loves his music and would never want to give it up. Without “dreaming” he's afraid he will lose the ability to write and play. It's a hard choice, but Dare is desperate. He's tired of being so dependent upon others. Even though they tell him constantly that he isn't, Dare is afraid they hate him for it. After yet another incident where Dare burns his arm badly when he spaces out while cooking, Sionn can't take it anymore and insists that Dare get help. Part of his frustration is that Sionn is in love with Dare, but he's so fragile, Sionn doesn't want to make a move and lose his friendship. Therefore Sionn tries to hide his feelings with little success. Dare seems to be the only one who doesn't notice it. That's mostly because Dare thinks Sionn hates him for being the way Dare is. Dare begins to see a psychiatrist who refuses to give him drugs and insists that he journal his experiences to look for patterns and triggers. In some ways, it's harder, but Dare makes a valiant attempt, although he is still convinced that he's a freak and will never be normal. At which point his therapist reminds him that normal is relative. Dare has to learn to define who he is, aside from the rest of his family and find his own normal.
In the meanwhile, the band gets an opportunity to record their music, but it ends up they only want Dare. Out of loyalty and convinced that he could never play without his band, Dare calls the promoter and tells him exactly that—all of them or none. Afraid to lose them altogether, the record producers concede and take them all. The whole process is exciting, stressful, chaotic, and enlightening and they finish both relieved and hopeful for a better future. But when they go out to celebrate, tragedy strikes, threatening to tear the band apart, yet presenting an opportunity to become closer as well.
Each member of the band had his own story with elements of chaos, mistrust, angst, along with forgiveness, redemption, and love. I normally love rocker stories, but the characters in this story didn't engage my emotions as much as I would have liked. I felt as though I was outside looking in some of the time. Perhaps if I'd had more background information, I would have been able to become more emotionally involved. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. The concept of the musical hallucinations was interesting. It seems almost magical, although I can see where it could become annoying if there were no way to control it. If you like stories about rockers, family loyalty, great music, and success against all odds, you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Layla, for introducing Desolation Angel to me and for the closure you brought to each of their lives.