Thursday, September 3, 2015

Enthralled Review

Hidey ho, neighbors! Back again with another review, and then I might muse randomly on writing later on. I haven't decided quite yet.
Custom cover from a photographer,
how cool is that shit?

The book we are reviewing today is Bryce Calderwood's Enthralled, which is the first of a vampire series. I love vampires. I love real vampires, not musty vampires who are oh so conflicted and shit. Give me blood and gore and I'm a happy camper. I am happy to report there are some real fucking vampires up in this shit.

We begin the book with Ashlyn, who hears a bunch of anguished screaming, and a blood red mess falling from the top of a very large building. This is how she meets Musette, who is a futanari vampire. I have to say now, futa girls are not my kink. However, vampires are very much in my kink sphere so I wanted to read on anyway. I don't try to take off points or give harsher reviews to stuff that's not to my taste, because writing is writing. I try to look at the characters, the plot, the writing, and so on.

Anyway, Ash brings Musette back to her apartment and then lures a futa hater back to the place for Musette's dinner. Musette and Ash have bloody sex, and it only gets more trippy from there. I say trippy because at times it felt like I was reading someone's weird blood-hazed, sex-crazed drug trip. This is a high compliment because I was sucked into the story. I could even ignore the futa sex... to a point. Until he started mixing it seriously with the bloodplay, and then I was riveted... bloodplay is one of my kinks, and he hit it really fucking hard. Like so hard, I felt ashamed at my attempt at horrorotica before. ASHAMED. BAD WRITER, BAD. Why? It was sick and fucking twisted and I loved every second of it. This is horrorotica at its finest.

However, because there's always a however, I do have a couple of problems with the book. The first is personal preference, but it's a hard squick so it's hard for me to ignore. When people fuck women so hard their "tummy distends" that is so way not sexy to me. It happened... once or twice, squicked me, and I moved on. It IS, however, a staple of hentai and futa erotica, so if you are reading this book because of the futa-ness, it hits the kink really hard. Ok, actually like really hard, because cum is everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Hell, one of the characters practically aims across the room at another one. Across the room, folks. Personally, I look at that and think, "yeah, I'm throwing three hundred dollars at a cleaning service." Plus, how do you keep your drapes clean? And who washes the ceiling?!

That's a pretty minor problem, ropes of cum aside. Personal thing. The second is a fundamental flaw which doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the book, but rather illustrates a missed opportunity. There's one scene in particular where Ash goes out and kills a couple (yes, she becomes a vampire, sorry spoilers) who she caught making out in like a barn somewhere. It's summarized in a paragraph. However, how it's summarized made me think, "Why wasn't this written out?!" She catches them, forces them to admit their true feelings to each other, and evidently the boy was like, "yeah, just saying I love you to fuck you" or something. Ash kills the boy first, while the girl looks on in neutral approval, and then when Ash goes to kill the girl, she begs to be turned into a vampire. Ash agrees, but then doesn't, and the girl realizes it too late, and dies, unhappy, tortured, and unvampirized. Sounds pretty cool, yeah? It's summarized.

Now, Bryce is one of my better friends, and we talked about this today. He said he didn't want to bore people, but the point I brought up was that it was a complex scene which went towards Ash's character development, basically chopped out. There are three ways you can look at this scene which would have added not just to Ash's development and character, but also the tension in the book, bringing to home the horror of it. Because fuck, who wouldn't want to be a vampire? Be super strong, super hot, and fuck bitches up and shit? People forget... vampires aren't the heroes: they're the monsters.

  1. The scene would have drawn a parallel to Ash's "worthiness" of being turned by Musette. Was it just payment for saving Musette? Was there something special about her? 
  2. It also would have shown a mirror between the normal "love at first sight" trope and Ash's and Musette's declarations of love. Is that a real love? Can it be trusted? Is it just the high of vampire-ness and hot, dirty, filthy, awesome sex? How can she be sure it's real? 
  3. Lastly, Ash had felt guilty over killing someone before, and stated specifically she was going out to kill again... to get over her last kill, knowing that later on, guilt will wrack her again. A lot of shows try to show the parallel between blood/killing and drugs, but I think this is truer to it than the drug analogy. There's a vicious cycle that's often mentioned and then forgotten in vampire fiction (that or dwelled on TO DEATH), and I think this would have made Ash a more compelling character. We're riding along on her ride... her highs are our highs, her lows are ours too. 
I want to see this scene written, and I know Bryce reads this, so I'm telling you now, dude, write it. Add it in. Throw it in somewhere as a bonus. I don't care. I want to see this scene. 

Some other complaints is that they fall in LURV too quickly, but honestly, I think it's a blood-high and infatuation. I would love to see it play out that way in later books, and I would love to see Ash realize she threw away her mortal life for something that seemed awesome and cool, but then, whoopsie, eternity with your ex you hate? But I'm just a negative Nancy like that. I also happen to believe villains don't get happy endings. (Forget the fact that I write about villains myself. Goes to show what I think should happen to them, which doesn't bode well for my characters, but I digress.) Besides, both Musette and Ashlyn are young, which lends creedence to my limerence or infatuation theory.

Second, the trope of all vampires are rich and blah blah blah. Yeah, that's there. It's at least explained reasonably well, but it's still there. And.. who wants to read about poor vampires? 

And lastly, this goes back to the non-extended scene... I wanted more world-building stuff. There were some really good glimpses of this world, but I'm not sure Bryce thought through all the consequences thereof. For example, there's an institute which cock girls with some high tech bio-grafting technique which costs a boatload of money. Yeah, that biotech wouldn't stop there. People would be modifying all the time, in all sorts of weird shit. And since it costs money, rich folks would be on top of that shit, controlling it, or manipulating it somehow. Maybe they're all secret pervs. Maybe making designer bodies is the new thing. 

What about furries? Would there be furries in this world? Would there actual futa catgirls running around? (The stuff of my nightmares, oh, Pocket D, how I miss you so) What about like centaurs? Or minotaurs? Mermaids? Is this where octogirls come from (from another of his books)? I wanna know! Or if the technique can't be used with animal DNA, what about three breasted women a la Total Recall? Double cocks made to fuck pussies and asses at the same time? Multiple arms like Goro? What about the ones that didn't work out so well? Could they be reverted back? Are there gangs of horrible mutants out there bent on murderizing people? (Ok, maybe I'm missing Wes Craven too much, that's more The Hills Have Eyes

I wanted to see more. And I keep talking about it, which means I really loved this book. Yeah, it's not my kink, but anything that makes me think about it after I've read it, and to such a degree? It's made an impact, and a good one. 

All in all, it hits the futa girl kink hard and the bloodplay kink hard. It could have done better with the vampire kink (which isn't bloodplay, not exactly), but it did a good job representing too. It's not sugar coated. It's fucking horror and it's fucking erotic. It's brutal and nasty, but it has its sweet moments too. Hell, I even bookmarked a page in it (and I never do this) because I loved a quote so much:

All moments pass, my love. That's what gives them their sweetness.


That's beautiful. 

I give this book nine bloody fistings out of ten. 

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