Pride Reads 2024: “Corrupted Vessels” by Briar Ripley Page

Corrupted Vessels by Briar Ripley Page
Corrupted Vessels by Briar Ripley Page

A dissatisfied college student encounters two runaways who herald the end of days, which leads to a crossing between the worldly and the spiritual that eventually turns deadly. Corrupted Vessels (2020) centers queer lives and desires in a devastatingly beautiful way.

Briar Ripley Page’s work provides an unflinching glimpse at queer experiences from the margins. Their short novel Body After Body explores how capitalism exploits the body. Memorable characters and places populate their many short stories, including Tattercloak and Desire in the Flooded World. Briar’s novella, Corrupted Vessels, does more than further demonstrate their storytelling prowess. It’s a story that doesn’t stray from the thrill and bluntness of queer love and desire.

Ash and River, trans runaways squatting in an abandoned house outside a nearby Florida town, find their lives challenged and disrupted when Linden discovers them. Ash claims themself to be the vessel of fire, and River the vessel of water. Ash knows this from the Angels, who speak to them about the forthcoming vessels of Earth and air. When Linden meets them, they’re convinced that Linden is the vessel of Earth. The vessels must shed their worldly desires to prepare for the new world.

Of course, Linden doesn’t believe the prophecy despite returning to the house to provide food. Linden, frustrated by their relationship with Nora, finds satisfaction through Ash. Linden’s complicated characterization neatly knifes through their narrative arc in memorable and eloquent passages about consent and boundaries and whether to pursue a committed romantic relationship.

Linden and Ash are nonbinary, and River is a trans boy. Nora is a Black queer woman. However, their characterization doesn’t stop there. Briar empathetically writes LGBTQ+ characters as complicated and human as they can be. The imagery and depictions of landscape and death go beyond straightforward details of a decaying corpse, the texture of a certain plant, and more. The story braids desire and longing through moments like River reflecting on the house he and Ash have discovered. The part elaborates on the tarnished state of the house and the hope of making it into a home for them.

Corrupted Vessels shares a narrative about the beauty and devastation of queer lives and how it’s not always visible to the world.

Corrupted Vessels has been re-released by tRaum books.

Check out the author’s page here. You can support them on Patreon.

You can read more Pride Reads reviews on The Geekiary here.

Also, please read and support works by queer and trans creators (indie and traditional), not just in June.

Author: Bradda M.

Bradda M. currently lives in Virginia. He teaches ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) at a public school and spends his free time reading and watching movies each night with his partner. For The Geekiary, he writes about webcomics and SFF media.

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