She suggested a new Anne Rice book, and I instinctively thought it would be a new edition of Interview With the Vampire, which I already have. (It’s a rather battered copy now).
To my surprise, she pointed out a complete trilogy – The Sleeping Beauty novels.
Now I was slightly worried. Whilst they sounded exciting and sexy and seductive (what I’ve come to expect with Rice’s writing), I was a little ominous. Emblazoned on the front of the book jacket were the following words:
“If you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ll love The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.”
When the Fifty Shades books first came out, I admit I was curious. But then after reading comments and status’ on Facebook and a review that my friend had sent me, I was a little shocked about the content.
I read a page of Fifty Shades of Grey in HMV, and I was shocked at the quality, but then I had to remind myself it had started life as a Twilight fanfiction. It sounds like I’m blowing my own horn, but I could write better than that.
I skipped in and skimmed a sex scene. If that was erotica, it didn’t have the desired effect.
Back to Rice… I was skeptical, but thought, Hey perhaps Anne can get it right?
I started the first book, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, on Tuesday night. Narratively, the opening pages kept to the original tale of Sleeping Beauty who was not awoken by a kiss as Disney would have us believe. The regal Prince has sex with her unconscious body, which some may see as rape.
The book promises a ‘lush, suggestive fairytale, opening up a world of erotic yearning and fantasy’. To me, it did not.
There is nothing suggestive about it – it’s straight and to the point. I understand the bondage, domination and submission route. I’d been introduced to this in books in Year 10, namely the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton – and these were scenes that left me thinking, wow that’s hot.
Rice seems to have an obsession with writing about spanking with paddles and using phallus’. There was no build up, no use of the senses or erotic language. Our heroine, Beauty seems to fall in and out of love with other slaves (who are all royal Prince and Princesses), and her masters and mistresses as often as I changed socks.
It fell flat.
Beauty’s Punishment is the second book. I started it on Wednesday. The scene has changed. Now we are in the ominous Village, which seems to be a giant orgy, instead of a castle. The characters have changed. We still have Beauty as she is sold to an inn keeper and rented to the Captain of the Guard, and her viewpoint, but now we have the rebellious slave Prince Tristan on the scene. The blurb promises ‘forbidden infatuation’, bearing in mind, her relationship with Tristan began in the last chapter of the first book.
Yet again, this book held nothing for me. True, Rice introduces us to a world of male thoughts and scenes, but these cannot hold a handle to her previous male characters. The concept of threesomes has entered the book, but even this doesn’t have the passion of the other books that I have read.
The book ends with Beauty’s capture, along with Prince Tristan, Prince Laurent, Prince Dmitri, Princess Elena and Princess Rosalynd.
The third book, Beauty’s Release, was started on Thursday. This time we are in an exotic country, ruled by a powerful Sultan. The narration is split between Beauty and Laurent. We are told that in the final volume, we will entire ‘hidden regions of the psyche and the heart’.
I assume this is the switch in characters and their behaviours…Beauty seduces a young girl Inanna, and here we have a full blown lesbian sex scene, which seems drastic in comparision to her previous behaviour. Laurent, in his narration, seduces Master Lexius, and turns the table – this time, he is the one holding the whip, using the paddle, and making a slave.
The novel ends surprisingly. Beauty is taken back to her mother and father, where she is expected to find a husband. Beauty says: ‘I don’t really want a slave. I want to be one’, showing that the punishments and acts she has participated in throughout has changed her completely. Laurent becomes King after the death of his father, and he goes to Beauty, where they decide to live ‘happily ever after’.
To me, these books weren’t erotic. They didn’t excite or enthrall me. They were fairly quick reads, and left a lot to be desired. The characters didn’t move me in any shape or form. It some instances it seemed like bad porn, or amateur stories which can be found on multiple websites by typing ‘sex stories’ into Google.
Erotic fiction should be about overcoming your own reservations about sex – now isn’t the time to be a prude, and if sex doesn’t add to the story, then the scene has no place. Include the senses – it complicates the plot, conveys heightened awareness and enhances characters. And of course, practicality over clichéd thoughts.
Erotica is about the emotions. Pornography is purely physical. It’s as simple as that.
Zoe Adams is a third year university student, studying a BA (Hons) in Professional Writing, based in Lincolnshire. As aspiring author, Zoe enjoys writing adult fantasty, horror/paranormal and erotic fiction. Her first eBook (Ten Years Later) is available on Amazon Kindle. She also freelances for TheFactSite.com.