This book is both very short and very beautiful. The language used is extremely elaborate and artistic- and it works. Normally I’m annoyed when language seems to be an overly frilly barrier towards actual interpretation of the work – but this works because the visuals are clearly the main element of this story. The beauty and artisty, the evocative mental images, the powerful, heady emotions – these are why this book exists, why this story is there
And it is extremely beautiful, it is very emotional. It’s intriguing to follow not because of the story per se, or because of the characters, or because of the conflict, but to see the imagery play out, so see the scene being set, the emotions be evoked. This is all about theme and aesthetic, of tone and appearance more than plot
But I’m left wondering what this is? Because is it a story? Is it long enough to be a story? Does it have an established enough plot and characters and world setting? It feels more like a snippet in a longer story, even as a short story it feels so much like a part of something greater. It’s more like an artistically crafted Vignette. An out take, a snapshot. The whole feel of the story makes me think that it’s more about an artistically crafted image more than a story. This is a scene, this is a display, a performance. It’s an artistic craft of elaborate, beautiful, stylist language with an intriguing concept and a lot of dark edginess.
It’s been pared down to just these elements with the rest dispensed with. It kind of works here because it’s clearly what the point of the book is. And it works as this. It really does – it is beautiful and stylish and quite excellent to read
But is it a story? Is being a story the point?
I mean the plot revolves around the sacrifice a woman made for her husband she loves and how that effects them
I know about his worries. I know about her despair. I know a lot about the passionate love between them and the overwhelming sexual attraction. I know about her fears and concerns and desperation. I know about the elaborate scenes they pass through, the sexiness, the roughness, the violence, the darkness are all abundantly clear.
I don’t know who they are. I don’t know where they came from. I don’t know what they do. I don’t know what they’re doing from here. I don’t know how their story will continue nor have I been expected to care. I don’t know where this is set or even specifically when (beyond a vague sense of Victoriana). I don’t even know if the male protagonist is actually possessed or traumatised. And I don’t think I’m supposed to, but it does leave me bemused.
This book is “edgy” sexually. We see a lot of the main female character being extremely, passionately sexual. She not only loves her husband, but she finds him incredibly, passionately sexual and it’s not even slightly sanitised. Her open sexuality isn’t “oh look at his manly arms” it’s visceral and carnal and even talks about fluids in ways beyond a vague reference and even includes masturbation
But a lot of the sex around her is depicted in a violent manners. However mist of the sex is simply rough and fantasies – with a sex club where consent is expressly included at the beginning. But then it also seems to include some members who don’t get to say no and the way sex is described is expressly meant to emphasise the violence and the imposition of something a big strong man is doing to a woman, even with the expressly described consent. There’s also a scene where our protagonist feels she has to offer sex to a man to save her husband. He doesn’t force her, demand or even hint – but she offers because she can think of nothing else she can offer.
This club also depicts bisexuality – but the underlying tone is “oh look how perverse this is”, with faceless, nameless people having sex as set dressing.
I leave this book feeling it was an emotional, evocative and elaborate read, but equally wondering exactly what and why I was reading it.