(Mandrake of Oxford; 2001)
A very strange little novel that’s obtained some minor popularity on the
underground circuit. A good book? Not entirely. An interesting one? Most
The author is a Ph.D. certified history professor who frames the proceedings
as a dissertation on Transhumans, a race of cannibalistic grotesques. It seems
this amoral sunlight-hating species lords over us from under the Earth,
harvesting people as food while keeping the truth of their existence a secret.
They use telepathic power to attain their goals, along with traitorous humans
they ply with great wealth to help keep the rest of us in line.
Mirabello claims he learned this info from a strange woman who imparted a
manuscript whose contents take up much of the following narrative. In it the
woman claims to have inadvertently summoned three of the Transhumans, who
appeared in the guises of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and St. Anne, the mother
of Mary. These three kept the woman (then a girl) and a troublemaking friend in
an underground cage for several years, where they were used as breeders for the
Transhumans. Eventually the two escaped and--what luck!--found a book that
minutely explains the transhumans’ bloody history.
As a novel THE CANNIBAL WITHIN isn’t much. It relies overmuch on
coincidence and contains quite a few gaping plot holes (we never learn why the
woman ever thought to contact Mirabello in the first place) and clumsily
integrated dream sequences. What professor Mark Mirabello has come up with is
more in line with a thesis paper complete with numerous subheadings for each
chapter and an overpowering concentration on his central concept, which trumps
things like character development and narrative ingenuity.
In keeping with the collegiate nature of the book, the language is stiff and
academic and the tone unwaveringly sober and detached. The professorial air is
furthered by a remarkably erudite series of literary references filling us in on
the Transhumans’ links to various historical and religious texts. Say what you
like about Mr. Mirabello, but he’s definitely done his homework.
details of Mirabello’s book, of course, include cannibalism, incest, rape and
just about every outrage you can think of. Yet it’s all described with such
unwavering conviction (sample line: “Since genital orgasm is the most powerful
of all feelings, it must be the greatest of all sicknesses”) that you might just
find yourself wondering how much of this tall tale is actually real.