Body & Blood: Edited By Weasel
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Mixing horror and erotica is a tricky proposition, and its success largely depends on the intent of the author. Do they want to turn you on a lot and horrify you a little, or the opposite? In the intro to Body & Blood, the editor explains that they want two bites of your cherry, to make you feel turned on and horrified at the same time. Now that’s no mean feat. I’ve read many extreme & splatterpunk tales which don’t hold back when it comes to giving you a stiffy and a shiver. I’ve also read some pretty full-on erotica where death veers dangerously close to the sex, so I went into this collection anticipating something hardcore from both angles, especially given that cover art.
The anthology opens with Lia Meyers’ Hot Queer Witches Fight Demons, which is an awesome title for a story which struggles to deliver on its promise at times. There’s some powerful imagery, evocative descriptions which work in all the senses, and an involving plotline as Zo and their teacher Master Grace battle to rescue Zo’s partner from a necromancer. This involves a battle across memories, and it’s fantastically imaginative – only it wasn’t really that sexy, or horrific. It might sound odd for a fan of both horror and erotica to say it’d be better without so much of either, but I was more interested in the characters’ plights than I was scared or horny.
Next up is A Desperate Missive by Ysadroa Alexander, an epistolary tale which gets straight to the point – there’s a Mothman about. I was expecting some uncomfortable, possibly dust-covered sex to take place based on that, but instead, this period piece takes a more romantic angle. Which isn’t a bad thing; taking the form of one long letter, the story is packed with sexual tension, steadily giving way to terror. The fascination our heroine has for the mysterious Lord Mothe (yes, really!) never lets up, and her desire to impress gradually consumes her until things start to get weird. So again, not exactly sexy but definitely horrific.
Tamara Werteen’s Roses Bloom at Night is next, and finally makes good that promise of erotic horror. Here, an innocent trip to the florist turns out to be anything but. It’s a far shorter story than the first two, but you won’t want to linger too long on the sights it has to show you. Shocking and bloody, with a perfect closing line, this will definitely make you squirm in more way than one.
Then we have The Fall by William Holden, a tale blending love, obsession and spirits to nightmarish, sometimes confusing effect. There’s a dream logic feel to the story as it flashes between various events, out of linear time. This creates an unsettling atmosphere, but by the end it felt a little garbled, with some scenes overstaying their welcome and others ending too soon. What’s definitely effective is the blend of sex and death, often very close to each other, making for some disturbing moments.
Jake Neville’s The Gay Agenda seems like it’s out to shock from the title, and it is, with a guy led astray on a night out filled with dangerous encounters and monsters. The lead character talks you through his troublesome journey in the first person, and I just didn’t like the way he came across, so I wasn’t really that fussed about what might happen to him. As horrific as the final parts are, there’s some dubious consent at play which I never really enjoy. I think there’s room for misinterpretation of the story’s climax too, and it just didn’t sit right with me overall.
Next up is Land Line by Mike Bendzela, easily my favourite of the entire book, a tale of destructive, tragic obsession all stemming from a series of bothersome phone calls. Whilst it’s definitely erotic, the sexy stuff pales in comparison to the growing sense of unease, which gives way to a stunner of an ending that left me in a panic. This is the story you should buy this anthology for.
After this you get Jaap Boekestein’s Blood Girl, a straight-up vampire sex story, in which vamps have sex with a human and things go wrong. Because I don’t enjoy vampire-based erotica that much, I wasn’t a big fan, but it has a lot more going for it, blending intense sex scenes with some BDSM-inspired horror where pain and pleasure mix to a worrying degree. Its vampires are cast as both crazed animals and romantic creatures, and there’s a surprising amount of heart in its ending.
The penultimate story is Weasel’s What Lurks In Paradise?. Here, the editor gives us a too-short tale where a couple’s afternoon sex turns sour. There’s some knife play early on which made me think some more human evil was going to be involved, or maybe an accidental Bobbiting. Despite a brief WTF moment when the horror begins, and some lively kink when it comes to the erotica, it all felt pretty by-the-numbers, failing to excite on either level.
Finally, we have Drainage by Jonathan W Thurston, which follows Daryl as he tries to cope with the disappearance of his lover. He does this by committing a bizarre sexual act, which backfires completely. Even though there’s a mounting level of weirdness and an effectively horrible ending, it’s nowhere near erotic. Ironically, for a story where its main character likes to do DIY, the whole thing could do with a touch-up, especially the final few paragraphs which left me scratching my head trying to figure through the timeline, taking me out of the horror entirely.
It’s a shame the introduction promises something the book doesn’t always deliver, but disregard that and I think you’ll have a good time with these stories. I’d definitely be interested to read a second part, especially if it manages to push the boundaries a bit further.
Body & Blood
Sex is alluring, yet at the same time sex can be horrendous. Body & Blood collects 9 tales of queer erotic horror, which explores the limits of sexual exploration.
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.