Semen: C.C. Adams
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Some blurbs spill too much before you slip under the front cover, and Semen by C.C. Adams is one of those times where going in dry might prove more enjoyable.
Even if you manage to avoid ogling its rear spoilers, this novella is up against some stiff competition in the field of “a woman has something weird happen to her, then tries to figure it out” horror. Coming across like a grosser version of Rosemary’s Baby, the story relies on repeated are-they-or-aren’t-they sexual assault flashbacks/nightmares to bring the creepiness, while smearing a small amount of body horror on top. The first few times we share our hero Vicki’s experiences do manage to disturb, but then they’re repeated with small variances throughout the story, which left me numb to them even before the halfway mark.
As for Vicki herself, she takes all this weirdness in stride, but her journey doesn’t have much bite to it because of this. You never truly feel the panic or outrage she should be feeling in going through what she’s put through by her assailant. In-between the segments where she’s terrorised or suffering the after-effects of her strange dreams/attacks, she more or less goes about her everyday business, taking brief pauses to do something peculiar like taste cat food or go through cravings so bizarre she could get a full season of Freaky Eaters devoted to her. There’s a lack of tension or escalation here which makes it a pretty hard slog. None of the relationships with her friends are that compelling either, and even when a lifeline is thrown her way towards the end of the book thanks to a mysterious stranger, their encounters don’t seem to go anywhere. The entire story has the feeling of a short story idea stretched out into a longer piece, a lot of it reads like filler, all of which makes it hard to engage with Vicki’s plight as much as you’d like to.
The climax also fails to deliver, stopping fairly abruptly and leaving you with one huge unanswered question. You’re expecting more than what’s delivered, basically, and though there’s an emotional side to what finally happens, it almost doesn’t go far enough. In hindsight, that failure to clarify or expand on the one thing that’s constantly being brought up all the way through the story feels like an unfulfilled promise, which is hugely frustrating. For a story about sex, it’s strange to reach the end feeling like you have blue balls.
Overall, I’d say that Semen is pretty hard to swallow.
One-night stands; lots of Londoners have had them. But when Vicki Henry joins their ranks, her carefree night of passion has a terrible consequence.
After the act she is leaking a fluid that looks …unusual. Coupled with the growing signs of pregnancy and recurring nightmares, these raise disturbing questions for Vicki.
Like: just who was her partner? And what exactly did he do to her?
Assuming he was human?
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.