LitStack Review: The Chaos Agents
Author: F. Fox North
Title: The Chaos Agents (Baron & Eddie Book 1)
Told in four inter-connecting narratives from the mid 50s through the early aughts, The Chaos Agents explores the impact and implosion of Saffron, a mid-century musical phenom led by Baron Templeton & Edmund Hammond – whose breakup is the stuff of legends.
From a small British town in the 50s, to young brothers struggling with the grit of NYC in the 70s, to two camp counselors falling in love to a backdrop of 90s rock, to a secluded cabin in the early aughts where the offspring of Edmund Hammond finds himself blocked, each decade gets closer to the shocking revelations of how they’re all connected – and whether they can ever be unbound.
In The Chaos Agents, F. Fox North has written a queer, fictional Behind the Music for readers who enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six, A Visit from the Goon Squad, or even The Ground Beneath Her Feet.
Where administrators and parents hellbent on disenfranchising queer and trans students – or students with even a passing curiosity in equality at all – F. Fox North has written a book that defies convention and thank the rock and roll Gods they have. Pitched as a queer Daisy Jones and the Six, the plot of The Chaos Agents stretches across the decades, between the chords of 1950’s British rock and roll, and through various points of views to tell a sublime story.
Baron Templeton and Eddie Hammond are two late 50’s British rockers who struggle with making music together an dealing with the tension that pulses between them. It should be noted that Fox admits these characters are somewhat representative of Lennon and McCartney. But where those two geniuses’ paths weren’t the ones of Baron and Eddie (I’m guessing here), Fox’s characters still become real and gritty and hopelessly evocative.
We are also treated to other compelling stories in the book; my favorite being Cymbeline in 1997 because I’m a sucker for the poor thing. There is also the son of Eddie Hammond and his valiant effort to separate himself from his famous father by making magic with his own music. Music that means more than he can manage at beginning of his story.
The real superstar in the book, however, is Fox’s deeply emotional and electrifying prose and the way they are able to manifest a feeling of sensuality and sensitivity in something that isn’t real but certainly feels so:
There was a secret under Eddie’s lips, a smiled that he ony half smiled, a thought that he didn’t speak. Instead, he nodded, put the records down on his tautly made covers and headed toward the hall. Barron followed him stepping, slowly now. It felt like he was walking into the belly of a great whale, that at any moment he might uncover a heart.
The Chaos Agents is an excellent title filled with nostalgia, sensuality, and a sweeping love of music. It’s a thrilling title from an immensely talented writer that you won’t be sorry you picked up.