Review: Priestess by Justine Geoffrey

Priestess is available on Kindle

Amazon Description:

This collection brings together the first four BLACKSTONE Erotica books from Justine Geoffrey and Martian Migraine Press: RED MONOLITH FRENZY, GREEN FEVER DREAM, ‘Summonings: Anicka & Kamil’and ‘Summonings: Yvette’s Interview’ in the order in which the story occurs. Follow a novice Priestess of the Black Stone as she calls up prehistoric sex-gods in the mountains of Eastern Europe, gathers power and partners in the glitzy dungeons of London’s BDSM scene, and mates with monsters in subterranean chambers of lust and horror! Learn the backstory of her friends, lovers, and enemies! This volume also contains excerpts from Blackstone Book 3, YELLOW SIGN BOUND, and the sci-fi gonzo-erotica ‘Orgy in the Valley of the Lust Larvae’ PLUS a special essay from the author on the weird-erotica writing experience.

PRIESTESS (Blackstone Volume One): transgressive, bizarre sexuality, night-black humour, and cosmic horror! Open yourself to the perverted supernatural world of Justine G!

Ade’s Review:

“Leave your Lycans and vamps and sad succubi at home, Ladies. I’ve got no interest in that only-just-inhuman sphere of influence.” So says Justine Geoffrey in her essay “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being: Why I Write Weird Erotica”, and thank goodness for that because erotica is currently being crushed under a tidal wave of bland cookie-cutter formats, formats that writers like Justine Geoffrey confound with their bold refusal to chase the casual commuter market. You won’t find any Christian Grey’s in the pages of Priestess, but you might just find a Charles Dexter Ward, juiced up on a heady concoction of LSD and Viagra.

Apparently there is a lot of money in weird erotica. I haven’t seen actual statistics, but the theory is that if you corner the market in a particular kink, then you can secure plenty of sales offering a product readers simply cannot buy anywhere else. Sure, there are not many people that get off on fucking a fax machine, but there’s more than you think.

Justine Geoffrey is not one of those cynical authors trying to corner a market. This surreal blend of hyper-erotica and Lovecraftian-prose is expertly crafted, showing a true appreciation for the works she references and emulates. From a pure nuts-and-bolts angle, her descriptions have the linguistic diversity Lovecraft would have been proud of, keeping the sexual elements fresh and entertaining. There is a dreamlike freedom to Priestess, a freedom to indulge any whim or flight-of-fancy, a “Can I stick it there? Well I won’t know until I try!” philosophy that is thoroughly endearing.

So should you read Priestess? Well, yes you should, but don’t come crying to me if you are threatened or sickened by the contents, or (far more likely) aroused by something you never thought possible.

Farewell James Herbert

James Herbert passed away today at his home in Sussex at the age of 69. Three authors had a huge impact upon my childhood; the first was Stephen King, the second Terry Pratchett and the third and most influential of the three was James Herbert.

Perhaps it was the brevity of his novels that made them so easy to pick up. The Rats is a book that can be digested in one sitting, The Dark a novel that to this day I hammer through within 24 hours, even though I know each scene before it arrives. But for whatever reason James Herbert’s novels form my earliest memories of reading.

Herbert is one of those rare authors than can actually conjure horror out of the fantasy. Stephen King managed it with Pet Semetary, and Herbert is the only author to do likewise with the brilliantly creepy asylum scene in The Dark. I remember listening to the audiobook version as a boy and being unable to sleep that night, my mind locked in that hellish building surrounded by countless lunatics laughing at my captivity.

As I’ve grown older I’ve often returned to Herbert’s writing, and although he never reclaimed his earlier brilliance, I will always remember him as my childhood hero.

In honour of Britain’s great horror writer, my top five James Herbert books:

5. Fluke
The story of a man who thinks he’s a dog, or a dog who thinks he’s a man; this fantasy tale is more light-hearted in content, but perhaps more grownup in theme. A man finds he’s been reincarnated as a dog and decides to track down his former life to save his family from his killer. This was later turned into a film in which all the melancholy was drained away to make it more appealing to the audience. Do yourself a favour and read it instead.

4. Once
Herbert’s crossover into erotica, once concerns itself with witches, hell-hagges and fairies. Thom Kindred is torn between good and evil as they both vie for his soul and occasionally.. er.. fluids.

3. The Rats
The first James Herbert book I read and the earliest book I can remember reading. The Rats is a cracking read which established Herbert’s knack for introducing a character, making us love them, then killing them in a stomach churning way. Giant rats wreak havoc on a grimy London. This was remade into a terrible film, so ignore that one. Would make a great movie one day if someone stayed true to the story and setting.

Artwork by Andrew McSweeney inspired by The Rats


2. Domain
The third book in the Rats Trilogy, but curiously the Rats are no longer the main antagonist: this time it’s man. London had been destroyed be a series of atomic explosions and the few survivors have been driven underground. However, deep below the rubble the rats are waiting; they have finally inherited the Earth. I still have vivid images burnt into my mind of the opening of this book in which character after character is given a brief past before being vaporised by the explosions. It was that realism that made this opening perhaps the most horrific I’ve ever read.

1. The Dark
My favourite James Herbert book of all time is this nasty little tale depicting a battle of good vs evil, light vs dark, that tears London apart. A ritual suicide sparks a growing wave of madness that spreads across London, its influence gaining momentum with each violent night. The government scramble to make sense of the phenomena throwing science against mysticism, but nothing seems to penetrate the Dark. It is the moral ambiguity of the Dark that excites me the most, the idea that evil lurks inside every human and given the right circumstance it can seize control, and most chilling of all: no-one actually did anything they didn’t secretly want to do all along.

Review: Development Hell by Mick Garris

Amazon Description:

Development Hell by Mick Garris – Available on Amazon!

Hollywood, California: the Bermuda Triangle of art, sex, and commerce. The beautiful people make their daily deals with the devil on the sun-dappled patio at the Ivy, not in a fiery underground cavern. Nobodies become somebodies in the blink of an eye, but the flash of heady success can be fleeting. The rocket that shoots you into the atmosphere can be carrying weapons of mass destruction that can send you just as quickly and efficiently to Hell.

And back to Heaven again.

Development Hell is a wicked Hollywood satire, disguised as an extreme erotic horror novel. It is told knowingly from an inside perspective, tracking the career trajectory of a young film school hotshot into the annals of the Big Studio.

This arrogant young director leads us through his own set of unique experiences, starting with his explosive and disastrous first Hollywood movie; his discovery of a mutant baby in the arms of a Mexican news dealer in downtown Los Angeles that will be his ticket back to the top of the heap; into the arms of a re-animated glamorous star who died in the 1930s; and body-hopping through the most glamorous sheaths of human flesh on the planet.

It is a side of Hollywood rarely seen from beneath its unvarnished, Botox-free, crinkling, wrinkling flesh, and features a supporting cast of characters you will surely recognize.

Development Hell welcomes you into a behind-the-scenes peek unlike any other you have witnessed before.

Ade’s Review:

When I was a youngster I watched Stephen King’s The Stand on television. I remember it was during the great mad cow disease scare and due to the combination of that apocalyptic film and the hysterical news coverage I got it into my head that we’d soon all be dropping like flies and I’d have to smother my family with pillows before the end.

Fortunately this never actually happened, but I was left with a love for that adaptation of The Stand, which years later I learned was directed by Mick Garris. I didn’t seek out Development Hell with Garris in mind; rather it became a very happy coincidence that the director who enthralled me in childhood would write a book I would so thoroughly enjoy almost two decades later.

Development Hell is a long crawl through the shit-pipes of Hollywood. Our protagonist (the archetype of Hollywood hack: huge ego and zero talent) rises and falls over and over like waves on a turbulent sea, forever given chances and each time blowing them in spectacular fashion. And yet, as despicable as the lead character is, the world as seen through his eyes remains an honest one, a true depiction of the shallow excesses of the industry.

I was drawn to Development Hell after reading the first chapter in a short stories splatterpunk compilation and although the novel never reaches the same heights as that first gruesome tale, the narrative is interesting, witty and even touching at times. You can never quite bring yourself to root for the main character, although you do identify with him, a peculiar mix that captures his own self-loathing perfectly.

I would recommend this book to anyone who knows enough about the film industry to appreciate the satire, even those with weak stomachs who would be put off by the (brilliant) opening section. There is much more to this book than graphic sex and nauseating descriptions: brutal self-deprecating hilarious honesty.

Verdict:

A true master of the splatterpunk genre: someone who sees disgusting content as a means to an end, rather than the end in itself.

Development Hell by Mick Garris is available here for £1.99. A bargain!

Review: Lunar Light (Beautiful Damned) by Penelope Fletcher

Amazon description:

Available on Amazon

When the full moon haunts the sky, Evangeline prowls the dark as a Wendigo; a fearsome mix of human and beast. The night an injured outcast falls into her claws she must defy her keeper, the laws of nature and her own morality to protect him from the Hunter who wants his head as a trophy. Struggling to reconcile her cannibalistic urges and gentle temperament, Evangeline must move beyond the ancient curse of her ancestors blood, and become legend.

Erotic Paranormal Romance ~ BrE
Contains adult language, extreme violence and explicit sex.

Ade’s Review:

Reading Lunar Light, I couldn’t shake from my mind the old white wolf table-top roleplay games I wasted so many weekends on in my youth. The principle characters, like the players in our adolescent games, are thrown together and trust each other on sight (as if in a favour to the storyteller). However, unlike the stories constructed and acted out by a group of teenage boys, the principle characters spent the majority of the book shagging rather than seeking out enemies to kill.

The white-wolf similarity stalks any supernatural tale in the modern era. You can see it in everything from Twilight to True Blood and I do not begrudge it; I once tried to make a pilot for a vampire television show that in hindsight would have got the shit sued out of me. Good job no-one was interested in vampires back in the late nineties! Fletcher, at least, tries to stray from the standard werewolf stereotype by having the main creatures be Wendigo/Wendiga, a North American cannibalistic demon. I must confess, it was this ingredient that made me download the book and give it a go, one of my favourite novels (Stephen King’s Pet Semetary) involves the mystery of the legend of the Wendigo and I was curious as to how Fletcher would handle it.

The Lunar Light Wendigo is a beast rather similar to the werewolf, though perhaps a little stronger and with some curious powers over the weather system. I would have liked a greater distinction as this was a defining flavour of the tale and one worthy of exploration. As it stood, the story was more concerned with the relationship between the two protagonists than exploring the mythos of their backstory, though of course this may have been a conscious decision to show how little they understood of it themselves.

There are a trio of characters who dominate the storyline; Luke, a mysterious Wendigo fleeing peril; Evangeline, a Wendiga brought up in isolation from her kind; and her Da, a human who had raised her whilst instilling a deep guilt about her brutal nature. We see the events through the eyes of Luke and Evangeline, giving alternative viewpoints (mostly of each other’s genitals), and in retrospect I would have liked more from Evangeline’s Da, a character that I grew to like mostly because the author was so adamant I should hate him. The two lovers of the story seemed so naïve it was hard to support their actions, especially when Evangeline rejects her (admittedly brutal) father for a stranger she’d suddenly fallen in love with, seemingly because he was such a good lay.

As a piece of erotica, Lunar Light hits many right notes. The scenes are well paced, with some variety to keep them fresh. However they are so frequent that I felt myself getting frustrated with their sheer obsession with screwing. Sacrificing some of the sex for character development would have gone a long way in making the remaining erotic scenes a bit more effective. That said, Fletcher had a good rhythm and some pretty decent prose.

As horror the piece felt a little confused. We were repeatedly told that Evangeline was a monster, but being a monster hadn’t had enough of an effect upon her psyche to be believable. When bringing home a Wendiga (another monster) she worries about him seeing panties on the floor and discarded erotic novels. It was difficult to believe that a woman primarily concerned with her cannibalism would behave in a way that usually only comes from a high degree of socialisation.

Verdict:

Admittedly I doubt I am the target audience, so lambasting this novella with my own gripes about the story would be unfair. As a supernatural romance it seems solid, if a little light on the mythology. I understand there is a sequel, so that could fill in the gaps or flesh out the background pleasingly.

If you are looking for a piece of erotic fiction with a dark twist (but not so much darkness as to put you off your sex) then this could be for you. Fletcher’s writing is pleasing and doesn’t shy from the sex, what else are you after??

Lunar Light is available now on kindle for £0.76. Get it here!

Penelope Fletcher’s Website