Gettin’ Burned: A Review of Rope Burns: An Anthology of Erotic Horror (review by Willow Croft)
(Please take note that there may be spoilers ahead)
I have a confession.
I think this may be my first erotic horror anthology I’ve ever read. Well, unless you count reading V.C. Andrews when I was eleven or so. (Gotta love the trips to Grandma’s house, where I could raid her library!)
And, in reading this, I realized I wrote a erotic horror short story back when I was an undergrad–one that my teacher had a hard time reading.
As a result, I was very keen to read Rope Burns.
It opened with the novelette Chinara, which had all things deliciously dark–multi-spiritual modern day coven, sacrifice, sex, and one very pissed-off momma.
I also liked having one of the main characters be in gender transition–I think this heightened the erotic part of the story for myself.
For me, though, the highlight of the story was the last few pages with the mother-turned-demon, especially the ending. That’s when I felt the authors’ writing really had a chance to shine. For the first three-fourths of the story, I think the writing could have been tightened up and the story condensed to make both the horror and the erotica have a more powerful effect on the reader’s mind and body.
“Ministrations” was a delightfully humorous story: who doesn’t love reading about the tables being bloodily turned on a creepy stalker? Over and over again, mind you, like multiple organisms tucked in among all the chuckle-inducing twists.
In “Breathless,” a young girl’s peanut allergy introduces her to the darker side of sexual pleasure with a lovely chilling climax to end the story. I thought it was innovative to build a story around that feature of modern-day life–a world where everyone (including me) seems to be allergic to almost everything civilization has given us.
I think the thing that I love about erotica the most (and, now, erotic horror) is the imagination that goes into it. It’s like Y.A.–Harry Potter–for adults. More than the kink, more than the horror and shock value, it’s how creative the stories are, including the ones in this anthology.
They were such fun reads that it was hard to pick favorites, even. But some of the ones I’d like to reread were “My Doll Likes to Eat” and “Corbet and DeSade Compare Notes in Hell,” but “NSFW” was great, too—goodness, I give up. They’re all worth reading. And it’s nice to have a laugh, in addition to the more obvious draws of the erotic horror genre.