Well! It’s been an eventful and fun week here at Atherstone Hall. Yesterday I signed the contract for a new story acceptance, ‘Inside Mrs Jones’, which will be published by Deep Desires Press in February 2017.
Now, enough about me! Here are a couple of books you ought to know about, if you don’t already.
First, Mitzi Szereto‘s anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe. I love stories about vampires, werewolves and the supernatural in general, and I love erotica – so what could possibly go wrong with an anthology like this?
The answer is, pretty much nothing can, and nothing does. Red Velvet and Absinthe is a beautiful and varied collection of elegant, touching and, above all, sexy stories. Not every story was to my taste, but that’s only to be expected when the authors ring so many changes on the monstrous and the spectral – both fear and desire are very personal things, no?
Here are some of the stories that particularly tickled my fancy (among other things): lead tale ‘Snowlight, Moonlight’ by Rose de Fer (a gorgeous BDSM-style riff on the werewolf theme); ‘Cover Him With Darkness’ by the always-excellent Janine Ashbless (now expanded to a trilogy of novels published by Sinful Press); Szereto’s own offering, ‘The Blood Moon Kiss’; Zander Vyne’s tale of romance in the shadow of the gallows ‘La Belle Mort’; Evan Mora’s lesbian vampire love story ‘The Persistence of Memory’; Giselle Renard’s mysterious and erotic ‘Milady’s Bath’ and Tahira Iqbal’s vampire thriller ‘The Queen’. All in all, a great anthology – perfect for your bedside table this Halloween…
And so is Emmanuelle de Maupassant‘s Cautionary Tales, although this is a very different kettle of spooks to Szereto’s anthology. I first heard about this collection via Janine Ashbless’ blog, and Janine did quite rightly warn her readers that if they were after paranormal romance, or even straight erotica, Cautionary Tales wasn’t really it: it’s a stranger, more mixed brew by far, but all the better for that.
Narrated by a chorus of the dead, the stories are told in the style of Russian folk tales, but the plots themselves are very much de Maupassant’s own. While not erotica per se, they’re often richly bawdy, albeit shot through with the harsh morality of the supernatural tale. Don’t be expecting the Disneyfied, sanitised fairy tales: the world of these stories is red and tooth and claw, a dark and pagan landscape where the deep dark woods are full of wolves and worse than wolves, where demons await the opportunity to prey on the wicked, the dishonest, the foolish, the envious, the lustful… or just those who stray into their path at the wrong time. It’s a capricious world, where a mistake might get you a chastening life lesson… or devoured whole by a hungry monster.
That’s not to say that everyone comes to a bad end, though – which is another good thing, as the one drawback with this collection is that the stories all share very similar settings and tones (one story, in fact, hints that many of them are set in the same village.) The rich and vivid array of characters and their differing fates – some happy, some not – throw some variety (the spice of life!) into the mix. The final story, ‘Against Caution’ (all the tales are ‘Against…’ something, as you’d expect with a cautionary tale!) adds a deliciously subversive twist to the whole book.
As I said at the beginning, this isn’t exactly erotica, but there’s a strain of that woven through the collection, mixed in with horror, fantasy and a hint of Angela Carter. If you like your fiction sexy, dark, eerie, beautifully written or all four, you’ll enjoy Cautionary Tales.
Have a spooky (and sexy!) weekend!