BOOK REVIEW: The Brightonians: Under Siege by Daren Kay

May 24, 2024

The Brightonians: Under Siege

Daren Kay

Oh preciousssss Darlinks, one simply must acquaint oneselves with the latest delicious morsel from Mr. Daren Kay – “The Brightonians: Under Siege”! This saucy sequel is a veritable tour-de-force of camp, catty humor and heartwarming homosocial homilies.

As Miss Rona’s ( Covid 19’s) unwelcome visitation plunged that bathing box of iniquity known as Brighton into chaos, our dear author whisks us away to those halcyon days of lockdown mania with his trademark flair for the dramatic and penchant for innuendo. One’s pulses simply race as Kay’s bohemian bevy of bons vivants scramble and shriek amidst the pandemic panic! Their desperate bids to maintain a veneer of normalcy and cling to pre-Rona convivialities are at once hilarious and poignant.

Kay is a perfect angel when it comes to skewering the gauche guignol of Brighton’s self-styled aesthetes, artists and social climbers. His characterizations are pure perfection – sumptuously drawn doyennes bickering and boasting over society’s choicest morsels with withering disdain. One can quite imagine the indomitable Drag Queen dispatching the odious Social Climbers with a mere arch of brow amidst the delectable satire!

And Saxon Goddess Frigg herself would surely relish the delectable pagan curses and mystical claptrap woven amidst the tale’s very fabric. The rising supernatural menace adds a piquant frisson to the proceedings, while providing ample comedic opportunities for Kay’s unsurpassed mastery of camp double-entendre. Any modern Queer will keenly appreciate such arch embroidery of occult outrageousness, I am quite certaine!

At its core, “The Brightonians” is a love letter to the community spirit of Brighton. Kay deftly portrays the interconnected lives of the city’s residents, highlighting the strength and solidarity that emerge during times of crisis and cleverly referencing not only the AIDS pandemic and the vibrant community responses then,  but also uses real LGBTQ Sussex history to energise the back stories of the older characters in the book, as they navigate the challenges of daily life, they foster a sense of belonging and support that is truly heartwarming. The novel beautifully illustrates how, even in the face of adversity, a close-knit Queer community can provide solace and strength, and pokes fun at how easy it is to get irritated with someone when there’s nowhere to escape!

In short, this is a novel to be devoured with relish by all those who luxuriate in the finer things – arch social satire, acid wit, and celebratory self-parody amidst life’s adversities. Mr. Kay has created something precious indeed – a irresistible confection both delectably droll and surprisingly poignant. One fervently hopes the literati of Sussex extend their favor upon this delicious bauble of a book and its incomparable author. For truly, are we not blessed denizens all?

Out now £9.99 Paperback

For more info or order the book here


Meet the Author @ Sunday Salon

There’s also an opportunity, to enjoy the sophistication of one of the cities most stylish Open Houses – Artist of the Year – Sarah Arnett’s and her opulent garden, on 26th May. Hear the Author Daren Kay read from his new book and talk about the real history that inspired it. Sara is an acclaimed contemporary artist and designer, known for her fabulously eclectic aesthetic and has also designed the cover of The Brightonians.

More info or book free ticket here