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Literature / Lost Souls

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Death is easy...

For the MUD, see Lost Souls MUD

Lost Souls is a 1992 vampire novel by Poppy Z. Brite.

Fifteen years ago, a trio of vampires breezed into a New Orleans bar on the last night of Mardi Gras. Their leader, the charismatic and murderous Zilliah, seduced and abandoned a teenage girl named Jessy, leaving her pregnant with a vampire child who devoured her from the inside out. The baby was left in a basket on an anonymous doorstep in the hopes that he might find an ordinary life.

In the present day, a teen who calls himself Nothing lives in a boring middle-class town where he hungers for things he can't explain. Running away from his adoptive parents, he finds himself in a van with a trio of mysterious strangers as they careen across the country in search of hot blood and cheap thrills. For the first time, Nothing feels he's found where he belongs...and he'll do anything to stay there.


Best friends Steve and Ghost make up Lost Souls?, a band maybe a little too talented for the tiny town of Missing Mile, North Carolina. Steve can't hide anything from Ghost—not his drinking problem, not his rocky relationship with his girlfriend Ann, not his self-destructive thoughts. Because Ghost can see the past. And the future. And Ghost has seen dark times coming.

When a van full of vampires pulls into Missing Mile to take in a Lost Souls? show, it seems that the dark times have finally arrived. Steve must race to save Ann from the vampires, while Ghost hopes to save Nothing from himself.


Tropes used in this novel include:

  • Aerith and Bob: Steve and Ghost, specifically, but also applies more generally to the full cast. Almost everyone has an unusual name—Ghost, Nothing, Molochai, Twig, Zillah, Kinsey Hummingbird, Arkady, Spooky—to the point that ordinary names (Steve, Ann, Christian) sound like outliers.
  • Agent Peacock: Zillah is androgynous and outwardly delicate and beautiful, but is prone to spectacular violence.
  • The Alcoholic: It could be argued that a lot of the cast are this to some degree—the vampires drink copious and constantly without consequence, and even Ghost likes to tie one on-but only Steve has developed a serious problem: he can't stop once he's started, and he does dangerous, violent things while drunk. (The vampires also do a lot of dangerous, violent things while drunk, but they also do dangerous, violent things while sober.)
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The two story-relevant female characters, Ann and Jessy, are both immediately attracted to and impregnated by Zillah.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: "Ghost" appears to be Ghost's real, legal name. (His famous spiritualist grandmother also had a cool name: Deliverance.)
  • The Big Easy: The book begins and ends in New Orleans.
  • Bishounen: The eternally young and preternaturally gorgeous Zillah. Ghost is also described as "lovely".
  • Creepy Twins: The unnamed vampire twins that killed Arkady and his brother.
  • Death by Childbirth: Any woman who becomes pregnant with a vampire child will die horribly trying to give birth to it.
  • Disposable Woman: The only significant females in the cast are Jessy, who dies in the prologue, and Ann, who mainly exists to force Steve and Ghost to pursue the vampires to retrieve her. (Ann isn't even introduced until Chapter 12, nearly a third of the way through the book.) Both die due to their vampire pregnancy. The only female vampire ever mentioned (via flashback) likewise dies of a self-administered abortion.
  • Doorstop Baby: Christian literally leaves Nothing on a doorstop as an infant, complete with note.
  • The Empath: Ghost is this, among other things.
  • Emo Kid: Nothing. He gets better.
  • Everyone Is Bi: The entire cast, almost without exception.
  • Family of Choice: Zig-zagged. Nothing's family of choice includes his biological father, Zillah. He doesn't care for his adopted parents.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Zillah's coven, particularly when Nothing participates in the murder of his biological grandfather.
  • Fetus Terrible: Vampire fetuses are deadly to their mothers, no matter what: they're born by chewing their way out of their mothers' bodies, and it's strongly implied that if the mother attempts to abort, regardless of what stage of pregnancy she's in, the fetus will sense her intentions and try to make a break for it.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Zillah is a Biblical, female name used for a male vampire.
  • Incest Subtext: Arkady's recollection of his brother Ashley's beauty, and his description of their relationship, strongly imply that Arkady was sexually drawn to him and that the feeling might have been mutual. (Theirs is the only relationship in the novel where the incest stays subtextual.)
  • Jumped at the Call: Nothing is thrilled to be a vampire, and the only thing he's mournful about is his lack of fangs. (Actually, most of the vampires are shown to enjoy their powers and near-immortality, or at least are resigned to it.)
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Christian reveals that Zillah is Nothing's biological father.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The worst thing that happens to Steve after raping Ann is that Ghost makes him feel mildly crummy about it.
    • Nothing never gets any kind of comeuppance for helping the trio kill Laine, despite the fact that he was supposedly his best friend. He never even seemed to feel sad.
  • Lecherous Licking: Arkady licks Ghost's eyelashes, much to his dismay.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Zillah was hanged back in the early 20th century, but survived thanks to his regenerative abilities.
  • May–December Romance: Zillah is decades older than Nothing.
  • Morality Pet: Ghost is the only person Steve treats with any tenderness.
  • Mystical White Hair: Ghost's delicate white hair seems to be linked to his psychic powers. His mystical mother and grandmother both had the same color.
  • Only One Name: In this novel and in the other subsequent short stories in which he appears, Ghost is never given a surname. Considering that all the other human characters have surnames, the omission is a little odd.
    • All the vampires are only known by their first names, too, but it makes a little more sense considering they're ageless immortals whose mothers all died in childbirth.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Notably, you're not turned into a vampire, you're born one. Vampires are a predatory subspecies of humanity that have been living alongside, breeding with, and preying upon humans for eons. In fact, the four main vampires in the book (Zillah, Molochai, Twig, and Nothing) have so much human ancestry that almost all the 'classic' vampire traits have been bred out of them. In one scene, a much younger vampire envies Christian, who is several hundred years old, because he has fangs.
    • It seems it's possible to have a vampiric heritage without becoming a vampire. When Christian leaves Jessy's child on a random doorstep, he does so in the hope that the baby will grow up as an ordinary human—but he isn't surprised to learn, fifteen years after the fact, that Nothing's vampiric nature inevitably asserted itself in spite of his mundane upbringing.
  • Parental Incest: Jessy and her father. Zillah and Nothing.
  • Psychic Powers: Ghost was raised amid Appalachian folk magic, speaks to nature and to the dead, can feel others' pain, and sees into the future.
  • Questioning Title?: The band Lost Souls? (Nothing describes the question mark as the only thing "that kept the name from being stupid.")
  • Relationship Upgrade: Steve and Ghost get theirs in a short story ("Stay Awake") set after the novel. They do kiss in the book, but their relationship is left ambiguous.
  • Sexual Extortion: Arkady tries to get Ghost to sleep with him to save Ann. Steve arrives in time to shut it down.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Ghost has only ever shown interest in Steve.
  • Southern Gothic: The book takes place in North Carolina and New Orleans. There's a lot of kudzu, moonlight, and whispering spirits.
  • Staking the Loved One: Subverted. The only staking is done by Ghost, as he takes out Zillah. And Zillah is stabbed through the head, not the heart.
  • Threeway Sex: Zillah, Twig, and Molochai engage in this regularly.
  • Twincest: The creepy twins are ultimately interested in sex only with one another, to the point that they've starred in porn together.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Subverted. The trio ride around in a van and are basically murderous, opportunistic hobos. Christian supports himself by bartending.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: These vampires fall on the gorier end of the scale; at one point, the trio reminisce about dismembering a woman in a bathtub.