Child of Doors by J.S. Little
Nothing about the night Arc Litchfield’s mother died is certain for her, except for the blood and the light.
Passed through a host of foster families, her childhood unfolded in a series of snapshots where she never smiled. Then she meets Aimii, a Tesla-loving rebel who shares her distrust for the world, and everything changes.
But the darkness surrounding Arc has begun to spread, and she starts to see Him everywhere she turns. He is a predator moving through the world, who has hunted mankind for eons. He is the shadow man whose limbs are stretched too long; the man whose face is only smooth, white flesh.
Arc knows she has been chosen by him, and that escaping will not be easy. The secrets of Arc’s childhood and His existence unravel before her, and Arc and Aimii are left with only one choice: Escape, or die trying.
The characters are really what made this book so great for me. I went through a range of emotions while following along. I've been finished with this book for awhile, yet I can still recall the way that they made me feel. They became very real.
J.S. Little knows how to infuse horror and fear within the pages of his book. I'm an admitted wuss who has to sleep with the lights on after watching a horror movie. Child of Doors had the same effect on me. The horror wasn't over the top, just reaching out into the void to scare you. It was an intelligent prose that spiked a deep sense of foreboding and fear. If you like your books creepy, dark, and bittersweet, I'd definitely tell you to look to Child of Doors.
**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.
Fifty Shades of Rage
by J.S. Little
I should be writing about something spooky. It is the middle of October after all, Halloween is coming up. I’m watching a horror movie a day and planning my next book; spooky should be on the menu. But like so many things, it’s always the spur of the moment that determines what I want to write versus what I should be writing. So, please bear with me.
50 Shades of Grey.
I just can’t seem to escape it these days. Granted, it’s almost entirely a self-imposed torture but I just have a morbid fascination with the book. It is the best selling book of all time in the UK and almost as big in the US. And it managed to do this almost overnight. Sixty-five million copies sold in less than nine months. To quote Kelly Bundy, “The mind wobbles”.
I’ve subjected myself to the book and various critiques of it numerous times and I keep coming back to the same questions over and over again. Why? Why has it taken off? Why is this the popular introduction of a generation to BDSM?
Those of us in the Lifestyle had bit of a collective head-desk moment when 50 Shades really took off and neckties became almost synonymous with bondage. To many people it has become the primer for a ‘typical’ BDSM relationship. Which is a bit odd since in canon, the main character seems to have a very conflicted view of whether it’s even a good thing or not. She is terrified of the canes and equipment she finds in Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain. She hasn’t had sex when she meets him or even masturbated. She doesn’t even seem to know that the whole ‘pleasure and pain’ thing is even a thing that people like to do. Her knowledge of herself is so limited that it’s baffling that she’d even want to enter into something that is usually an extension beyond the vanilla world of sex which gets into a whole rant on informed consent. Hell, half the time even just consent is an issue in this book.
Once the sex does start and she’s kinda wandered into sorta being a submissive but never being comfortable with it, never enjoying the submitting part except to keep getting the orgasms, and generally being terrified of being non-consensually hurt by Christian, the story just becomes a repetitive chore to get through with hardly any tension. It’s laced with annoying textual constructions and the sex scenes really blend together.
I applaud women feeling comfortable enough reading erotica that they can buy it at Walmart. Personally, I’m all for that. There’s a ton of problematic stuff in the book but even that I could, more or less, look past it if it wasn’t being heralded as The Modern Romance. If the book wasn’t being promoted as a great True Love story for our times I might not have such a problem with it. If it wasn’t being held up as BDSM 101 by some people, it might not spark as much rage. If the writing didn’t make my eyes bleed, I might be able to excuse it a little more. But it does, so I won’t.
Where to go from here seems to be the question. If people did not realize that BDSM romance was a thing, and they wish get more, what else is out there? Or, if the neckties didn’t go far enough and you wanted to see what the rest of the equipment in the Red Room of Pain might do to, and for, you, what are the better alternatives? Naturally, there is a ton of BDSM themed literature out there. Most of it ends up being erotica geared toward specific kinks but I hope these few give you an idea of the range of work available.
The first one may be a bit surprising. Better known for tentacle porn and, let’s say, less than consensual sex, manga is here to save the day. This one might be a bit hard to find but Nana to Kaoru (Nana and Kaoru) is a the sweet story of a pervert that tries his best to be the super in-control Dominant when his childhood friend, who he’s pined for, comes to him for “breathers”. Nana, the straight-A goody-two-shoes, who is always in control in her normal life, is introduced to submission and learns to enjoy letting go of the responsibility of life from time to time. And they are both virgins. And as far as I can tell, there’s no sex in the series (as far as I have read). The focus is on different forms of domination and submission, the states of mind of both parties, what they get out of it, practical concerns for things like bondage, ect. The focus is heavy on the characters and how they relate. It does have a lot of ‘pin-up’ types of art but I think this is the kind of story that 50 Shades was aiming for. It is practically BDSM 101 with a story.
We move on to a more classic and much darker book, The Story of O. This is a much rougher story but it doesn’t quite veer into the realms of Non-Consensual that could be triggering for a lot of people. O is a willing slave and where 50 Shades likes to play at being kinky, The Story of O actually goes there. Starting from simply being shared by her lover with other men, O eventually gives her life over to being in complete voluntary servitude to her master. She is beaten regularly and trained to perform any sexual act required of her and she gladly does. Eventually, she even takes her masters brand. With a branding iron. Not a light-hearted book but it is intense.
Going out even farther is the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series that Anne Rice wrote. This one is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty where she is taken by the prince and sent to his castle to serve a period of ‘education’ as a sexual slave. This series has sex of almost every description in it, both gay and straight, and slaves of both genders are involved. The punishments are brutal and some of the scenes, like the pony play, might strain the sensibilities of a lot of people. I mean, I think Rice intended for it to be uncomfortable at times, but it’s impressively beautiful too.
And for the person that just needs to see if their sadism or masochism has any limits, who else but the Marquis himself. We have Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue. It’s the Marquis de Sade, his name gives us the word ‘sadist’. If you took every work that has ever been prosecuted for obscenity in the United States and crammed it into one story, it wouldn’t be as filled with just outright torture as this is. Which says something about the inanity of obscenity law, I think.
That should be out of my system for now. Until February when the movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey comes out just in time for my birthday. Wonderful.
Horror and weird fiction are his focus but future works include speculative fiction, high fantasy, and short form science fiction.