Book Review: Black Magic Women

Black Magic Women : Review of an Anthology of Horror

by James Goodridge

Mystical is how I like to label profound work and that’s how I label the work between the covers of Black Magic Women: Terrifying Tales by Scary Sisters, an anthology of well-crafted horror stories by a congress of well-established and up and coming group of women of color.

In recent years there has been a emergence or reemergence of black speculative fiction parallel to the Afro-futurist movement (I took the red pill and have been a creative member since 2013). This anthology will for years to come, be an important must-have book documenting the era.

A labor of love, the anthology is edited and curated by Sumiko Saulson and proof read by Jessica Glanville with contributions by: Valjeanne Jeffers, Kamika Aziza, Crystal Connor, Dicey Grenor, Nina Polina, Nuzo Onoh, Delizhia Jenkins, LH Moore, Kenya Moss-Dyme, Lori Titus, Kai Leakes, Rhonda Jackson Joesph, Cinseare S., Tabitha Thompson, Nicole Given Kurtz, Alledria Hurt, and Kenesha Williams. These women give you a buffet of different writing styles.

In the black community we have a saying that most people have heard and it applies to the contributors: “These ladies can burn!” True horror fans can appreciate horror in all its forms and sub genres. The horrific rush from a movie, web series, or television show. The straining of your hearing at the purported sound of a ghost caught on tape. The widening or squinting of your eyes at a just read gory part of a novel, anthology, or graphic novel. I’m a squinter, and this anthology didn’t fail in that department.

I’ll put it this way, there are no weak links in this anthology. I will not spoil things by going through all of the stories in the anthology, but I will comment on a few.

Valjeanne Jeffers “The Lost Ones” is a Werewolf/Love story/Crime noir story laced with Steam Punk/Funk set in an alternate time line United States, the progressive North America at odds with the conservative True America . The passion between characters Namia and Miles makes for a great read.

Kamika Aziza’s “Trisha & Peter” is a wonderful short story about two people forming bonds while fighting off swarms of bodies aka zombies. The child Trisha has to grow up fast and finds a mentor in Peter.

“Sweet Justice” by Kenesha Williams finds paranormal investigator Maisha Star on the trail of a serial killer and receives help from beyond the grave with a splendid plot twist at the end.

This anthology is an automatic read more than once gem released by Mocha Memoirs Press. Enjoy!


 jamesgoodridge headshot

Born and raised in the Bronx, James is new to writing speculative fiction. After ten years as an artist representative and paralegal James decided in 2013 to make a better commitment to writing.Currently, he is writing a series of short “Twilight Zone” inspired stories from the world of art, (The Artwork) and a diesel/punkfunk saga (Madison Cavendish/Seneca Sue Mystic Detectives) with the goal of producing compelling stories

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New Anthology Highlights Horror by Black Women

New Anthology Highlights Horror by Black Women

by Sumiko Saulson

Imagine horror where black characters aren’t all tropes and the first to die; imagine a world written by black sisters where black women and femmes are in the starring roles. From flesh-eating plants to flesh eating bees; zombies to vampires to vampire-eating vampire hunters; ghosts, revenants, witches and werewolves, this book has it all. Cursed drums, cursed dolls, cursed palms, ancient spirits and goddesses create a nuanced world of Afrocentric and multicultural horror. Black Woman Magic is a collection of terrifying tales by seventeen of the scary sisters profiled in the reference guide 100 Black Women in Horror. The anthology is edited by Sumiko Saulson and published by Mocha Memoirs Press.

Black Woman Magic is the natural spiritual root for our ancestral legacy in life. It is protection, warrior work, praise/worship, love or it is root-work meant to hex those who harm, cause mischief or to even bring about life lessons and mores. Black Magic Woman is badassness others want,” said Kai Leakes, author of the short story Sisters.

The new anthology runs the gamut from sleek urban fiction to hot horror erotica to gut wrenching terror to mystical dark fantasy. Within the urban fiction horror genre you’ll find Kai Leake’s story of vampire slaying siblings with a little something extra. Kenesha Williams’ Sisters is a tale of a magical detective hot on the trail of a serial killer who only seems to pick off the worse in society. Black and Deadly is Dicey Grenor’s epic Black Lives Matter revenge fantasy about a black goddess hellbent on justice.

“In the 21th century there are very still few characters like us, and out of this small pool many are post-modern “Step-and Fetchit” stereotypes. This is why speculative fiction is so important. This genre helps us to see outside reality, to say: what if? It helps us to imagine and create spectacular, wondrous realms, step back and find the beauty and wisdom there, and then transform our own space,” said Valjeanne Jeffers, author of the short story The Lost Ones.

Sometimes things are both scary and sexy, such as in The Lost Ones, Valjeanne Jeffers’ hot tale of a love-crazed werewolf, his soulmate, and a case of mistaken identity with a wayward succubus. Or Cinsearae’s Killer Queen, the story of a mysterious lady in yellow with a trail of dead would-be lovers and the detective who can’t seem to decide whether to nail her or “nail her,” and Dark Moon’s Curse, Delizhia Jenkins’ story about a player who meets a deadly supernatural femme fatale who is more than his match and may be the end of him.

“It’s always an honor to be included in a project like Black Magic Women. Most of us are in our own corner, writing and promoting, so this project gives us a chance to catch up on each other,” said Return to Me author Lori Titus.

Love gone wrong haunts Return to Me, Lori Titus’ tale of a newly empowered witch and the woman who asks her to cast a love spell on her wayward husband. Family love is found in the zombie apocalypse in the bittersweet story Trisha and Peter by Kamika Aziza. Grandma’s gift comes with unexpected consequences, usually found in the darkest corners of the Twilight Zone, in Crystal Connor’s Bryannah and the Magic Negro, and a young sorceress must learn to control her powers or risk destroying those she loves in Nicole Givens Kurtz’ magical tale Blood Magnolia.

“In a world where Black Women are portrayed to either be mammys, angry, or sassy, I’m so happy for a project like Black Magic Women where we get to be the heroes and maybe even the villains. So many times, because of our lack of portrayal in the media, it seems as if all Black Women characters must be paragons of virtue lest we “shame the community”. Embracing both sides of someone’s humanity, the good and the bad, is to allow them to be fully human. We shouldn’t have to be one end of the spectrum or the other, like all people, we are varying shades of gray and I think this anthology will show that,” said Kenesha Williams, author of Sweet Justice.

Some stories are not for the faint of heart. Sumiko Saulson’s Tango of a Telltale Heart is the story of an African drum engraved with Welsh incantations by the slave daughter of a plantation owner, giving it but one power – to avenge rape, but at a terrible cost. Left Hand Torment by R.J. Joseph tells the tale of Dominque, a young woman who’s marriage prospects at the Quadroon Ball soon turn into the darkest of imaginable horrors. Alternative is a work of horror-science fiction by Tabitha Thompson about a new miracle birth control with grisly and unwanted side effects. Labor Pains by Kenya Moss-Dyme pits a mystical madwoman against her sociopathic killer husband.

And sometimes you just don’t know who to trust. In Nuzo Onoh’s Death Lines, a young woman born with no lifelines on her palms trusts no one, because death is clearly stalking her. Here, Kitty! by L.M. Moore is the story of a sweet old lady, her beloved pet and a friendly stranger. The Prizewinner by Alledria Hurt is about a domestic, her employer, a strange, enticing woman, and a garden of surprisingly unique prizewinning flowers. Last, but certainly not least, is Mina Polina’s Appreciation, a story about an office crush that turns into something more painfully intimidating than anyone could have expected.

Black Magic Women, a horror anthology showcasing eighteen stories by different black female authors, is an outgrowth of a five year old project called Black Women in Horror Fiction originally organized by Iconoclast Productions for Women in Horror Month (2013). Originally a blog series consisting of interviews with and biographies of black women who write horror, in 2014 it became a reference book called 60 Black Women in Horror. February 2018 marks the release of a new, more comprehensive list, 100 Black Women in Horror. The new list is also slated for a February 15 release.

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 About the Author: Sumiko Saulson is Sumiko Saulson is a horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer, winner of the StokerCon Scholarship from Hell and 2nd Place Carry the Light Sci-Fi Short Story Award. Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She ranked 6th place in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.

Kbatz: Witches of East End Season 1

Frightening Flix

 

Witches of East End’s Season 1 is Too Muddled

by Kristin Battestella

 

Based upon the novels by Melissa de la Cruz, the late Lifetime series Witches of East End had plenty of magical potential. Unfortunately, this ten episode debut falters in balancing its bewitching tales and romantic plotlines, resulting in perhaps too many growing pains.

Artist Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) is surprised to see her wildcat sister Wendy (Madchen Amick) after a century apart – for unbeknownst to Joanna’s daughters Ingrid (Rachel Boston) and Freya (Jenna Dewan Tatum), they are a family of exiled and cursed witches. The immortal Joanna is doomed to see her daughters continuously born, grow up, and die, and this time she has steered the bookish Ingrid and romantic Freya away from their dangerous magical abilities in hopes of giving them a fuller, longer life. An old enemy, however, is after Joanna, taking on her lookalike form or shifting into other guises as needed to threaten the Beauchamps and interfere with Freya’s impending wedding to Dr. Dash Gardiner (Eric Winter). While her future mother-in-law Penelope (Virginia Madsen) is slowly warming to Freya, Dash’s wayward brother Killian (Daniel Di Tomasso) makes for a much more steamy adversary to the nuptials.

Glitz, glamour, saucy dreams, and ominous rituals in the garden open Witches of East End, and the “Pilot” moves quickly with fast talking folks and one blink and you miss it spooky incident after another. There’s a lot of house history and paranormal exposition shoehorned in the first ten minutes alone – making it tough to appreciate the morphing red flowers, poofing photographs, doppelgangers, pentagrams, and murder afoot. Did I mention the trite love triangle also being introduced? Witches of East End has much to digest, and although based upon its own book series, comparisons between Witches of Eastwick, Charmed, and Practical Magic are understandably apparent due to this initial patchwork and too similar feeling. Fortunately, Victorian flashbacks and glimpses into the twenties anchor past pain and fate coming to catch the titular ladies – unique tales that might have set Witches of East End further apart from those aforementioned comparables had it been set as a period piece. While it’s nice to have all age appropriate adults and realistic looking dark haired ladies instead of cliché teen bimbos, the enemy evil is told about more than it is actually seen, strong women are always being attacked by icky men, and attempts to be self aware about such cliches end up playing into that very same old. Witches of East End takes too long to get rolling, superficial threats are too easily resolved, and hello look at that shoddy police work. Thankfully, the intercut spell editing and smaller threats in “Marilyn Fenwick, R.I.P.” tie into the intriguing premise’s overall revenge and magical consequences. The sardonic comedy and rules of being a witch remain fun while serious conversations on whether magic is a gift or nothing but problems add drama. Rather than speedy shockers, time is taken with magic training and spell practice in “Today I am a Witch.” More sepia flashbacks and a long list of enemies shape the storylines while magical mistakes, face to face confrontations, and debate on whether these potions and powers should be used for protection and defense or the offensive help Witches of East End get a foot on the right moonlit path.

Fun guest stars, more sinister, and villainous history further up the conflict, surprises, and retribution in “A Few Good Talismen,” and the rules of the realm are established in “Electric Avenue” thanks to ghosts, legal tricks, and courtroom encounters. Witches of East End over relies on fast talking delivery and conveniently mentioned witchcraft information after the fact – we are told about more spells being done that we don’t get to see. However, when action actually happens, it is entertaining and weighted with supernatural arguments. Is the witchcraft right and justified in one scenario and wrong in another? Unfortunately, the pretty people making moon eyes in the pool in “Potentia Noctis” detract from the historical nuggets, turn of the century saucy, and spell casting magical brownies. The period apothecary, rival magics, multilevel spells, and mansion tunnels are top notch, again making one wonder why Witches of East End didn’t just dance the dance and begin with all this quality past beguine. The zombie resurrections and good girls gone bad consequences in “Unburied” are also hampered by the intercut romantic scenes. Yes, the magical hair pulling torture is kind of hokey, but the deadly high stakes is just a bit more important than love la dee da. New character dynamics and more evil shapeshifter meaty end up uneven or stretched thin because this need for dreamy keeps undercutting the magical ruses, occult research, fantastical dangers, and titular charms in “Snake Eyes.”

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Whoa, whoa, spoiler alert! Forget the love triangle soapy, the Beauchamps come from Asgard, can never go home, and more family has been left behind – and all this news is dropped with a mere two episodes left in the First Season. Say what? Knowing this information makes Witches of East End a lot more interesting, even as we again wonder why the series didn’t shoot out the gate with this enchanting who, why, and how it effects the present family. Any and all fantastical dalliances could have come through the town portal for our learning to be witches to wrangle each week and we got sweet nothings at the local pub instead? It’s great to see the sisters going head to head and banging up the house, too – even if the animated laundry is laughable. “A Parching Imbued” has the supernatural feeling Witches of East End needs with the eponymous gals in white robes on the beach casting spells while the evil shifter interferes directly with counter magic. Doppelgangers walk down the street, powers are lost, and conflicts arise over surprise character twists. Granted again the evil torture chamber looks more like an industrial art museum display, but deaths, harbingers of doom, and threats both mortal and magical disrupt the wedding preparations in the “Oh, What a World!” finale. Why ruin all the Asgard answers, bad omens, and major dramatic developments with too many sappy montages and pop songs? I’m ready for the verbal bitch slaps and magic battles! Although the easy, rushed resolution leaves Witches of East End on a cliffhanger and the San Francisco flashback shows the audience the tavern with magic cocktails we already know, the connection to present truths create some much needed character changes to up the ante for Season Two.

Thanks to the lovely at any age and foxy but poised Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall), the viewer immediately likes immortal witch and mother Joanna Beauchamp. She’s trying to keep her daughters safe due to a horrible curse and that live forever quality doesn’t mean that enemies aren’t out to test her immortality. Ormond’s accent is an odd mix of toned down British and put on American, which may bother some, but it can also be excused thanks to her long lived times – there’s certainly some fun Latin and doppelganger mayhem to chew on, too. Despite her continuously telling lies and withholding information, we don’t blame Joanna for hiding the witchy ways in order to save this generation. Everything she does is to protect her daughters, to give them normal lives, and help them realize being a witch isn’t their be all end all. Witches of East End’s uneven focus between the ensemble love and Joanna’s ongoing enemy plot wavers too much – sometimes we don’t see our star very much from episode to episode. However, the backstory and family revelations late in the season add new spins. Joanna has her own moments of happiness amid the dangerous, and her second love interest should have been recurring all along gosh darn it. It’s amazing to see a strong, mature, and classy lady working to keep her family together. Joanna admits she can’t deal with her history and magic on her own, and her coming round to magic uses, accepting her past, and embracing her power gives Witches of East End a positive anchor.

It’s unfortunate that Rachel Boston’s (American Dreams) Ingrid is always siding with Wendy while Freya is most often with Joanna, as these limited pairings inhibit plot variety and keep critical information from all the players – who often behave more like four women in separate events rather than a core family. Unless you read some of the series’ apocrypha, the audience doesn’t get all the details, such as Ingrid being the older sister. Her level headed skepticism and slightly awkward but honest chemistry is a welcome change of pace early on Witches of East End, however her uber shrew detesting of Meg Ryan and Katherine Heigl movies is too textbook on the nose and used more to differentiate her from her dreamy lovestruck sister than develop her own personality. Ingrid is a realistic student of history and witchcraft that suddenly jumps the gun and writes spells because she’s really powerful with a saucy evil past and not just a shy librarian after all. From episode to episode Ingrid is either awed, wide eyed, whoopsie surprised, and scared of her magical mantle or being selfish and stupid with serious life and death spells. It’s great to see when her magic gets out of hand with erroneous consequences, but the character is made smart and stupid at the same time and too often caught in over her head whilst we are also repeatedly being told she is the good one. Which is it?

Likewise, Jenna Dewan Tatum’s (Step Up) wishy washy romantically confused shtick gets old fast, and I wish I could skip over her ‘he’s oh so dreamy’ scenes. We don’t know anything about Freya except how she is torn between two men. Even when she finds out she is a witch, she turns princess and doesn’t want to get her hands dirty with spells – only to be angry later when her powers don’t work. Why couldn’t the love triangle plot be developed later once Freya knows who she is and has accepted her powers? Instead she always needs to be saved by one of her men. Meh. This same old melodrama wastes time Witches of East End doesn’t have to spare, and honestly, I would rather have seen only one daughter in a learning to be a witch plot with more focus on the elder sisters. Isn’t Freya too old to be this juvenile? She learns of her magic history but would rather talk about boys, and she’s a bartender who’s good at potions, ba dum tish! I’m not opposed to Gothic love triangles done right in paranormal fantasies. However, I do expect to know something more about an allegedly strong woman – an immortal witch from Asgard no less – before knowing who she’s boinking as though the boinking is the most important thing about her. As if!

Thankfully, Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks), is a feline delight for Witches of East End as Joanna’s wild sister Wendy. She has nine lives to live and now in her slightly mature age uses her experience to protect her family. Wendy is self aware, sarcastic, and educates her nieces on good magic just as much as she imparts don’t be like her reckless wisdom. Of course, that’s not to say she doesn’t get up to wrong doing spells and danger, but Wendy remains a positive sounding board. Some of her plots do move too fast – they use up her lives quickly and swoop in a love interest, too. However, some of the speedy exposition works when Wendy is dropping witty asides and one line adventures about being widowed, married, divorced again, or eaten by a crocodile. Her knowing how to fix or undo a spell is also a convenient dues ex machina used too many times on Witches of East End, but the sisterly pros and cons are well done with both Wendy or Joanna each being short sighted at times in their magical knowledge or uses. Where Joanna seeks to motherly protect, Wendy would rather empower her nieces. Is one way better than the other or can both styles strengthen the family? Amick is a fun counter balance whose personality doesn’t change from week to week – unlike the under utilized Virginia Madsen (Candyman) as Freya’s snotty future mother-in-law Penelope. It takes half the season for what we already suspect of Penelope to come to light, making for another missed opportunity that Witches of East End should have indulged from day one.

Dimension also comes too late for Eric Winter (The Ugly Truth) as Freya’s fiance Dash. Why couldn’t he have been a doctor first and foremost instead of one half of a limp couple? Scenes with science investigation to counter magic end up going nowhere, and time focusing solely on the brotherly rivalry is so slow compared to the rapid witch pacing. We can see man pain anywhere, and Witches of East End could have at least completed the trifecta and had Canadian Italian model Donald Di Tomasso play hockey instead of serving up the same old dark, mysterious, music, and motorcycle Killian brooding. The series continually falls back on this teen wannabe bedroom ho hum, and such glaring plots don’t belong on what’s supposed to be a sophisticated, women-oriented supernatural show. Fortunately, familiar guests including Matt Frewer (Max Headroom), Joel Gretsch (The 4400), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), and Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Scooby Doo) add mature, supporting sensibilities to Witches of East End. It is, however, disappointing to see the charming Tom Lenk (Buffy) and Kellee Stewart (My Boys) typically typecast as the gay and black best friends, respectively. Tiya Sircar (The Internship) as Amy also starts with medical intelligence and character strengths, but is ultimately made stupid with Witches of East End once again wasting better, progressive plot opportunities and giving both its interracial and mixed couples ill fates. Tsk tsk. All these independent, confident chicks and ensemble support possibilities, yet it appears the only purpose of Witches of East End’s unfocused storytelling is to toss every woman a man. Bechdel test my foot – when we do get all the lady librarians, doctors, immortals, and witches together they still end up talking about men!

Witches of East End has a fitting mood with black cats, bewitching eyes, skeleton keys, Latin curses, and a pink Victorian house that belies the spooky within its quaint. Books, photographs, ominous lighting, small period piece doses, and freaky bathtubs should be used even more for a slow burn atmosphere, yet once again I come back to the faulty execution at work. Witches of East End could have been styled as several television movies or at least had a feature length pilot episode, however the ridiculous playing at double speed opening title card is a lighting bolt blink and bam indicative of how by the pants these 42 minutes or less episodes were steered. The witch effects and magical movements are cheap and quick, as if making them one second longer would cost too much. Trite ‘if this were a movie, this would be the part where happens!’ dialogue doesn’t excuse borrowed ideas – like the trapped in the painting plot lifted from The Witches. Cell phones and modern lingo are intrusive, and unlike The Witches of Eastwick, everything in Witches of East End feels lighthearted, too soft with little edge or dark style. Cursing and some near nudity amid brief 1906 orgies are fine, but such saucy is also an obvious, late in the hour desperate move – and something turn of the century should not be montaged with contemporary pop music! Witches of East End never fully establishes its titular setting, and we know almost nothing about the town’s size, how many shops there are, or what the main street layout may be. Are there no nosy neighbors to spy on these backyard spells? Is the Beauchamp name beloved or notorious in the community? Viewers don’t find out the town is shrouded on a map and secretly famed for its occult history or hiding a gosh darn gateway to Asgard until it is too late. Good job, everyone!

If you are familiar with other magical material, Witches of East End will be very derivative. Some audiences may like that whimsical comfort, readers of the series especially I imagine, but that unfulfilled basic may be disappointing for others. Undivided viewing attention is needed for this incredibly fast moving design, and a marathon session is a must to both keep up with the fast moving plots or exposition dumping and breeze over the spinning tires romance. The steamy attempts may cater to the Lifetime audience but such trite strays too far into soap opera over the top at the expense of the unique core potential. All that should have happened to start Witches of East End comes in the second half of the season, with numerous writers and directors falling flat over a backward execution – which is surprising since there is a literary source. Though Witches of East End is certainly watchable for paranormal light fans looking for a streaming weekend or ladies growing out of Charmed, the weekly witchy, immortal trials, and magical tribulations feel like they should be bigger somehow – leaving this debut with more than its fair share of flaws muddling the magic.

 

David’s Haunted Library: The Box Jumper

 

David's Haunted Library

26880448A box Jumper is a magician’s assistant and one of Houdini’s box jumpers was Leona Derwatt. Leona came from a working class background and her father idolized Houdini. In 1919 she met Houdini while working in a magic shop, Houdini hired her on as an assistant and she became one of Houdini’s favorite employees. They worked as a team exposing spiritualists  as frauds and performing illusions on the stage. Their life together was complicated and it was made more complicated as the charlatans who Houdini exposed as frauds conspired against them.

The Box Jumper by Lisa Mannetti is like a paranormal mystery that keeps you off-balance until the end. The story is told out-of-order which to me made the book seem more original and added to the mood. You have to pay attention to how all the pieces fit together and how the story is told gives it a surrealistic feel.  It starts in the past, moves to the present and then keeps going to different periods in the life of Houdini and  Leona. You may have one scene with Leona where she is young and life is going well then there is a flash forward to a dark period in her life and then we skip to the future where she is reminiscing on her past. I found myself constantly wondering where this story was going which made the mystery in it that much better.

The best part of The Box Jumper is how it handles Houdini’s history. It deals with how Houdini exposed mediums and spiritualists as frauds and it gets into how the charlatans were able to trick people out of their money. This book brings history to life and showcases spiritualism and magic at a time when it was at the height of its popularity.  You don’t have to be a fan of horror to love this book , fans of historical fiction will love it too.

Another good part of this book is Lenora herself, you get to see her at different stages in her life and how she deals with abandonment, disappointment, happiness, and love. For a novella this book touches on several different themes and does a great job of making you feel for Leona. When I first read the ending I was upset by it but after thinking about it a little more I thought the end made perfect sense and I can’t explain that without giving the story away. The Box Jumper is a brilliantly written book and well worth your time.

Kbatz: Buffy Season 6

 

Buffy Season 6 Slips

By Kristin Battestella

 

On my last Buffy: The Vampire Slayer rewatch, I was sidetracked and stopped midway through Season 6. That, however, is no excuse – especially since now that I’m neck deep in another Buffy marathon, I can admit it’s the disinterested sagging of Year 6 that bottoms out the vampy viewings.

Sunnydale without The Slayer just won’t do, so witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) work a spell with Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Anya (Emma Caufield) to bring Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) back from the dead. Her watcher Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is leaving for England, but vampire Spike (James Marsters) has remained loyal to Buffy and helps care for her sister Dawn (Michele Trachtenberg). Unfortunately, Buffy isn’t glad to be back, Willow becomes addicted to using magic, and relationship cracks show as Xander and Anya’s wedding approaches. Life is bad enough, but the nerdy, self-proclaimed villains known as The Trio (Adam Busch, Danny Strong, Tom Lenk) interfere with the Scooby gang, causing a spiral of deadly divisions and end of the world rage.

 

Now on the UPN network after departing The WB, Buffy is darker this season and not as fun, understandably, perhaps, thanks to the hefty resurrection in Bargaining Parts 1 and 2. It’s an excellent start with action heavy and questionable Scooby leadership – these bittersweet departures and deadly transitions are nearly insurmountable for most television series, but Buffy pulls it off in “Afterlife”. Distorted, in your face, camera whirlwinds reflect the jarring as well as the intimate moments, tender returns, and demonic consequences. Sure, your friends meant well! These early bottle shows are strong in Year 6, for there’s no need to divert with weekly villains when you have so much raising from the dead angst. The gang isn’t exactly up to fighting demons, and their internal problems make for a more interesting pain than any supernatural catalysts. A more horror styled filming is indicative of this bleak Buffy can’t handle – such as the bills and broken pipes in “Flooded”, and more risque language and saucy details reflect this mature tone. “Life Serial” is fun as a one off episode with bemusing trials in the more expected Buffy humor. However, the episode has the unenviable task of fleshing out The Trio as mini bads for the season – rather than say, leaving them as an obnoxious recurrence or two amid all the other break ups, allegory, and torment.

Of course, “Once More with Feeling” has everything Buffy needs for the bitter developments in Season 6, and this longer musical hour works as both a unique takeaway and a deeply involved game changer. I hum these tunes or refer to the lyrics more often than I should admit, and while you can’t watch it with your parents thanks to the naughty gay sex innuendo in “Under Your Spell”, that suggestive wink has held up well. “Bunnies” is a fitting little rock moment, and “Rest in Peace” sums up Spike’s romantic edge – even if he doesn’t sing with his British accent. Whoops! “I’ll Never Tell” is a fine throwback that foreshadows relationship troubles to come, and each song’s tone is smartly tailored to match the characters regardless of genre or revelation. The actors who aren’t really singers still have catchy moments – Sarah Michelle Gellar’s flat notes appropriately match Buffy’s off-key state of mind – and the tongue in cheek whimsy makes for self aware set changes and breaking the fourth wall moments. Rather than the shorter syndicated edition, viewers must see the full length episode with its lyrical subtitles to appreciate how the smiling mid century musical direction perfectly belies the unhappy truths. Slow motion training montages are intermixed with serious reprises, progressing the hour from lighthearted to explosive. Indeed, the “Where Do We Go from Here” finale wonderfully surmises all of Buffy’s metaphors, leaving the house of cards fallen and our players facing rocky, unknown futures. All their secrets are made known – maybe life will be okay, maybe it won’t. Going out on a high note jokes aside, I must say, this episode could have been a superb series finale.

 

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Whew! Though not as big a production, “Tabula Rosa” is an excellent coda. Their souls have been sung, so now let’s wipe everyone’s memory and see if anything is happier. The switcharoos are humorous yet serious, and it is important for our wayward Scoobies to rediscover themselves. The pairs with the strongest ties remain, and whelp, that’s that for the rest. Michelle Branch’s appearance with “Goodbye to You” is also the best use of a concert montage on Buffy, ever. The early episodes this season are largely solid, even spectacular. Unfortunately, the magic is the drug elements in Smashed and Wrecked are too much together. Our beloved ladies are going to the dark side, nobody’s friends, no one gets along, and it’s all too unlikable and tough to watch. Dumb decisions are made and Gone uses invisible gags to lessen the sour, but half the episodes in Year 6 could have been axed. “Doublemeat Palace” uses the stink of normalcy in its conspiracies with askew camerawork to match while Dead Things goes too far with Spuffy sex and disgusting Trio behavior. Important character developments may happen and pieces of these shows are memorable, but the framework is too depressing or forgettable. “Older and Far Away” is the one where they can’t leave the house, right? As You Were is the one where Riley Finn comes back, really? And we care because?

Fortunately, “Normal Again” is a much nicer dark alternative with its superhero delusion and mental institution possibility. Which tale do we tell ourselves to keep us miserable or happy? This illusion versus reality twist is a much more tantalizing theme compared to the over the top bitter this season, as is the seemingly innocuous credit addition in “Seeing Red”. Again, rather than an expected monster, a real world drive by cuts the rug out from under the audience – we should know Buffy well enough by now to see too much good was in need of some ruin. Sadly, this critical episode is also uneven with Trio filler and an unnecessary, crossing the line motivation for Spike. His love isn’t cause enough for his quest? Why even show his motorcycle flight – just let him leave and give us that surprise next year instead of using intercut life versus death symmetry in “Villains”. Who can or can’t be brought back from the dead and what happens when you choose to take a life instead? All the ills come full circle with a surprising spiritual touch in “Grave”, and a good laugh over a simple, embarrassing recap of the season’s icky events breaks the gloomy. Unfortunately, Buffy doesn’t quite come round right, and it’s just a sigh of relief that this season is finally over.

 

Well, well, Buffy wanted a regular life beyond being The Slayer, but a feeling meaningless resurrection, fast food job, and paying the bills isn’t so fluffy, is it? Our super gal is flawed, disturbed, and unhinged – and getting drastic ala that rogue slayer Faith. Slaying used to be what made Buffy Buffy, but now she must find her place in this cruel world without her responsible routine. She can’t go back to college and has to put up happy pretenses or tell everyone what they want to hear rather than hurt her friends’ feelings. She raises Dawn and does the right thing while everyone else is too busy with their own lives to help her – even though Buffy is unwillingly back from the dead because of them. The bringing down the house metaphors are a bit obvious, but her discomfort over using someone she loathes such as Spike is an important experience. It’s abusive, unlikable behavior when she takes out her self hatred on him. Buffy is an inherently good person doing what she perceives as wrong – and unlike Faith, it tears her up. Sadly, it takes horrible human interactions for Buffy to get back to sticking to her guns after this year’s drab, but by the end Buffy is ready to live and intends to see justice served, whether her friends are right or wrong.

Spike’s relationship with Buffy, however, is a little weird. Such kinky, uncomfortable, and unhealthy physicality is a bit too much for younger viewers yet Spike has grown in emotion and loyalty. He has a chip in his head but not his soul, and that restrained, misplaced prowess helps him relate to Buffy the way the rest of the Scoobies cannot. He works alongside them but remains at arms length, an outsider just like she is. Spike enjoys making Buffy feel both pleasure and pain, and “Smashed” shows the inseparable nature of those seemingly opposite feelings. Is Spike a man in love or a monster playing poker for kittens? This ongoing struggle provides some wonderful character movement even whilst Spike dresses sexier, goes in the buff, and is treated like a drug for Buffy’s fix. He’s a powerful influence that threatens to harm her but the violence feels too extreme. Can Spike yet be redeemed? We’ll see. Likewise, Dawn is understandably trying to find her way now that the Key elements served their purpose in Season 5. Unfortunately, Dawn is also an inverse Wesley Crusher with nothing to do but steal, get rescued, or be really shrill, and we’ve been through all this erstwhile youth before on Buffy. Slowly, she joins the research or alleviates the tension with jokes, but Dawn-centric retreads like “All the Way” remain cliché and uninteresting. The audience has been rolling our eyes over her all along, so when the rest of the cast doesn’t notice her petty crime and actually forgets about Dawn after the bullets fly…ouch. Losing the character completely admits to a “Dallas” dream season mistake, but this year Dawn may have worked better in a reduced recurring capacity as the sisters’ mother had been. Ultimately, Dawn is truly a supporting character more for how the familial tug and pull affects Buffy rather than her own developments.

 

The hints were there, but it’s pretty stinky nonetheless to watch Willow go off the magic junkie deep end with too many unlikable me me me threats against her friends. Giles is right when he says she has some in over her head amateur to resolve. Does Willow work? What is her major at school? She’s a selfish bully who raises the dead or kills when it suits her but she can’t poof away a bill for Buffy? Willow does the resurrection spell because she wants to prove she can, not because she should, and there’s no need for the redundant magic á la drugs antithesis because Buffy’s making her own mistakes already. Where magic was a positive empowering lesbian metaphor in Year 5, now Willow is a very bad girlfriend becoming the abusive boyfriend. She misuses magic and turns into some kind of stereotypical evil angry lesbian filleting men. The fury and pain are emotional moments the first time you see Buffy, however on repeat, you just want to skip these mixed magic metaphors all together. As Xander once said way back in “Something Blue”, “So, so tired of it”. Buffy feels run out of ideas with these head beating allegories, and when Dark Willow’s personal rage turns into wanting to emo end the world’s pain, it’s just ridiculous. I would be more angry that it is the lesbian relationship being treated so problematic in Season 6, except all the pairings go to hell this year. Fortunately, Tara remains a positive moral perspective and solid center for the gang, and Buffy confides in her away from the group. She looks out for the Scoobies from a good place, something the rest of the gang learns the hard way. Maybe the character doesn’t change, but her reliability as an independent woman not moping over Willow is important to see alongside their more intimate and naturally progressing romantic moments. They do live together after all, and props to Buffy for not having the gay couple be chaste while other partners make whoopie.

Before their doubts about Buffy returning and their delayed engagement announcement, Xander and Anya were already a complicated pair. Rather than strengthening the character, Anya’s blunt and impolite sass is regressed this season to downright rudeness and a no longer cute obsession with capitalism and money. While Xander is the Regular Joe anchor for Willow from beginning to end, he is also ‘So, so tired of it’ with Anya, and she only seems to care about what’s really going on once she finds out Dawn has stolen from her. She tries to make Willow use magic and we feel for her being jilted in “Hell’s Bells”, but Anya’s mixed empathy also makes us realize how little we actually know her. “Entropy” tries to be humorous perhaps but the admittedly interesting possibility of Anya and Spike is used for hatred – another harshness thrown on top of the Year 6 heap. Xander does some stupid and cruel bull headed things too on Buffy, but the non superhero sidekick finale is meant to fix all that, I think. And no, Giles, you never should have left and picked the worst possible time to take flight.

 

There’s more new school bizarre in Year 7, but Kali Rocha as vengeance demon/guidance counselor Halfrek and James C. Leary as fleshy but friendly Clem are fun guest additions amid the dreary. Elizabeth Anne Allen is a fine bad influence as rat no more Amy, but her taunting Willow with selfish magic antagonism is inexplicably dropped. Although The Trio is funny within themselves and it is nice to already know their history, they are dumb, unlikable, try hard villains that go round and round too long. We’re disappointed in Jonathan – who hasn’t learned his lesson and finds his moral conscious too late – and weak Andrew’s latent crush on Warren is mistakenly played for humor. The Trio’s fan service pop culture quips become too obnoxious to enjoy the geekdom, and surely this plot would be done differently today now that nerdism reigns. Simply put, Warren is an asshole and gets everything he deserves. Of course, in order to do that, you have to become more evil than he is, and Buffy is right that it is better to leave The Trio to the authorities rather than loose yourself in such rage.

Hokey ghost effects, repeated monster designs, visually darker schemes, dated 2001 laptops and payphones – this season of Buffy feels older than it is thanks to all this depression. Despite the regular Buffy writers and production team being here to run the show into the dark ground, was it creator Joss Whedon’s larger than usual absence that let this season slide into common life addictions, character separation, internal evils, and one too many cliches? Perhaps. I’m tired of saying unlikable metaphor I know that. While casual fans may simply give up on Buffy halfway through here, completists will need to see Season 6 at least once to appreciate the player progressions – as well as their regressions and transgressions. Those familiar with Buffy can pick and choose their favorites, but the writing is on the wall for Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Season 6.

Review: Strange Appetites: An Anthology of Truly Bizarre Erotic Stories

Strange Appetites:
An Anthology of Truly Bizarre Erotic Stories

review by Voodoo Lynn

Enjoy Japanese fairytales, zombies, cthulu, and magic? You will love this anthology of truly bizarre erotic stories. Here are some of my favorites:

StrangeAppetites_CvrPRTJaded Appetites by Richard Freeman

Yutaka is a man who has done it all, sexually. He’s been up and down and all around the sexual kinks/perversion scale and just as he plunges into boredom, he meets a strange man named Tori at a sex club. Tori informs him he runs his own special club that caters to a very specific clientele. It is there that Yutaka meets Hari, a woman unlike any other he has ever encountered or ever will again. This story is based on an old Japanese folktale that I have never heard of before about the Hari-onago, the hooked woman—a women with very long hair that has little hooks on the end that rip into the flesh of unsuspecting males.

The myth seems to have originated from the Ehime on the island of Shikoku in Japan. As the story goes, she wanders the island, searching for young male victims. She will smile and laugh at them and if they dare laugh back, she attacks. Apparently, most men die but there are a couple of accounts where a man got away, barely. As all cautionary tales go, this one has a point: Don’t pick up strange women at night on a dark road.

I have also found out that the word “tori” in reference to Japanese martial arts means: to choose, to take, to pick up. This is a perfect name for the strange man who chooses Yutaka to come to his club and meet Hari the yokai—a supernatural, monstrous ghoulish figure. I am all about the details. As a person with really long hair myself, I’m kinda surprised I have never heard of this story before but, it gives me plenty of ideas for a cool Halloween costume! The imagery is vibrant and uncluttered and it flows as freely as the blood and hair in this story. A great quick read; especially if you’re curious about learning a little international folklore.

Oasis Beckoning by Jacqueline Brocker

This is a story of a man stuck in a desert, dying of thirst who thankfully, finds a cool pool of water. We don’t know much about the young man other than he is twenty five, with scars and rashes and that he has apparently fled his village when it was attacked by an army with guns, cannons and planes. This pool is a god send. As he soaks, he becomes so comfortable in the water that he falls asleep. It is here where things get interesting.

We find that the water is a living entity and that is it feminine. She reacted to the man as a lover would their first time together, with nervousness, excitement, anticipation and of course, desire; not only for one self but, to also please her lover. She took him in and lovingly cleansed his body and his soul. The water began her gentle and playful seduction. He reacted with astonishment and curiosity, at first. Like many males of the human species he was anxious for the mysterious force of nature (usually a human female but, in this case water) to touch him on his inflated spectacle of gender. Of course she wouldn’t, at least not yet.

This story has many faucets to it that are unique and fascinating. As humans, I think we are all in awe with nature at one time or another, for one reason or another—just ask any outdoor enthusiast. I have been fortunate in my life to have beheld many wondrous natural sites: the Grand Canyon in winter as first snow falls after a long drought, a sunset over the Pacific ocean at Cliff House in San Francisco, the wild, untamed mass of the Mayan rainforest jungles and the majesty of the Milky Way Galaxy overhead while camping in the Northern Nevada desert mining for my favorite stones—opals. It is humbling to know just how powerless we are when it comes to trying to dominate nature. It would seem nature has a way of reminding us of who or more accurately, what is really in charge ultimately. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. No matter where you are, the threat of nature snuffing out your life in a variety of ways is always there. As the self-appointed representative of Mother Nature Poison Ivy once said:  “…it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature…”

The idea of mankind being able to exert control on the forces of nature is not only arrogant and foolish, but ultimately futile and quite possibly, lethal. Will he escape the waters’ ineffable lure or, will he be seduced by feelings of eroticism and comfort? In essence, he returned to the womb and was nourished by the earth’s amniotic fluid, so why would he leave? You will just have to read it and find out for yourself.

Black Paint by Nobilis Reed

Master Tholnauer is an alchemist and an artist, an artist with some very unique paint. For the right price, he can paint you anything you want, including fully functional body parts, if you get my drift. This story is original and funny. I am familiar with stories that utilize magic paint. In fact, there are several countries and cultures around the world that utilize such paint though, it must be noted that their use is primarily for ritual purposes. This however, is the first time that I have heard about it being used for sex education. How can one not enjoy a story that uses the phrase,

“…and I applied the unguent of epilation and with as much calm professionalism as I could muster.”

This is a story that is perfect for those looking for a good, quick read and a love of fantasy writing mixed in with their horror and eroticism.

Strange Hospitality by Kailin Morgan

This story is built upon a time tested horror staple: a person is driving down an unfamiliar, desolate road during a storm that ends up with some sort of car trouble and then goes wandering around looking for help, finding a large, isolated house, far from any main road. The weirdness begins. In this version, we have Devon, an American, who has traveled to England to meet up with professors at Cambridge. His GPS fails on the way and then he promptly loses control of his vehicle. He tries to use his cell but, SURPRISE! It doesn’t work in a snow storm in the middle of BFE. At this point Devon does the same thing that every doomed victim in a horror story does- he goes wandering around, trying to find help and instead finds a weird, spooky house and decides to knock on the door and asks for help.

Now, I know what you’re thinking—the door is answered by some sort of servant or old creepy dude, but that didn’t happen. Mister dreamboat answers the door and Devon gets invited in; pleasantries are exchanged, hospitality is shown. Coffee was made and shared and a warning is issued: don’t go mucking about the house while the owner is not with him as it could be dangerous. Da, da DAAA! Is this warning heeded? Of course not! If it was, then we wouldn’t be here reading this story. Invariably, Devon hears a noise and instead of politely staying in the rooms he was told to, he follows it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t end up in a bedroom with the windows open and long, flowing drapes billowing in the wind, nor does it end up in a secret torture chamber or lab. Rather, it ends in a large bathroom, decked out with various depictions of octopuses. Here Devon is tempted into the warm, inviting waters because that’s what any rational person would do in a complete stranger’s home. Oh, and drink their wine. Not cool dude. But, if this had not happened then we wouldn’t be able to read about the light chastising of such rude behavior. We wouldn’t be privy to the hint of a warning because we were too busy being seduced. And, we wouldn’t realize that a porn version of Cthulhu was just right around the corner. Who knew?

I don’t want to give too much away, but after a multi-tentacle encounter came (pun intended) to its conclusion, the attractive man beast proposed an offer to our seemingly naïve, rude and good looking victim: Would he stay there and let him take care of him? Now, your immediate response might be to say ‘HELL YES!!!!’ After all, if I experienced a multi-tentacle sexual encounter with an attractive human on land/ octopus creature in h2o, who appears to be fabulously wealthy with a huge estate in the middle of England and gave me such a powerful orgasm that made my hips shutter and my vision blur that promised to take care of me and offer me such pleasure for the rest of my life that wants my company, where do I sign? But, think about it. You would have to give up your entire life, as you know it.

For me, the real horror is the thought of abandoning all that I am and giving up those external aspects of my life that make up “me”, all for one person that I just met. I suppose it depends on what you’re giving up. I will happily call myself a coward if I don’t make the choice to disappear and would rather stay with my life now. Of course, the Cthulhu-esque hottie beast-man might just kill me anyway if I don’t stay in which case, I choose door number two! Read this story because it’s interesting and then you can optionally drive yourself crazy afterwards pondering what you would do in this situation.

The Ravening Season by Jacqueline Brocker

The Ravening season is about the mysteries of the woods. A man with a group of friends are walking in the woods when he spots a woman so beautiful with such presence yet, somehow innocent like a child, or so he thinks.  He recounted to himself stories he heard of woodland creatures that if treated right would bring,

“…a lifetime of happiness and ecstasy.”

In this way, we can think of him as a person trying to gain the trust of a feral animal, or a selfish, sexist dumbass or, maybe all the above in this case. He bides his time and amazingly, it works. He thinks he is the luckiest man on Earth. Here he is, watching her develop physically, becoming more womanly and mature as time goes on. He wants her so badly but he knows to go slow so he doesn’t spook her. This becomes his single minded pursuit. He leaves his friends behind for her.

As the story progresses, his lust grows like her body. We’ll ignore this man’s disturbing pedophilic stalker obsession with her virginity and trudge on with the story. As the seasons change, so does her appearance from blonde to brunette (And why may I ask are brunettes always villianized unless they are Snow White?). Her behavior also changes from passive and shy to more aggressive and even violent. Yet, like a moth to a flame he keeps coming back to her. Some people just love pain I suppose.

The story seems to be about the all-consuming and irrational nature of love and lust. The author paints very clear and crisp images of what is going on. I enjoyed how the story isn’t set in any particular time period. The tale itself is timeless in its familiarity and warning. Like all fairy tales, this one teaches us something about life. It gives us a warning to not do what they did lest we experience a similar fate as the lead character does. So, what’s the lesson here? Is it about love, lust, obsession, betrayal, foolishness? There are so many things to glean from this story. To find out you’ll just have to read it and judge for yourself what the moral of the story is. I suggest you do it with a full stomach lest you find yourself hungry for something you think you might want but will later on regret, like that nice big piece of chocolate cake that is beckoning you from your icebox…I wonder if I have some milk in there too…

Sleep of Reason by Richard Freeman

I’m just gonna come right out and say this now: This is by far, my favorite story from the collection of stories. It starts out as a jaded author named Paul suffers from a severe case of writers block. (We’ve all been there.) The only joys in his life are sex and psychoactive drugs. He keeps journals of his psychedelic experiences. In this way, the character reminds you of Carlos Castaneda, minus the tutelage of the Yaqui Indian Don Juan Matus. After being in a rut for so long, he needs a little something to help him get out of it and he hears of a new drug “writhe” that’s unlike anything he ever experienced. The dealer says the drug is organic. OK. Good to know. Sulfur is also organic but, I wouldn’t suggest ingesting that either. The dealer continues on and warns Paul that the trip he’s gonna go on is dangerous and recommends he does it at home and lock all the doors and windows. So, Paul goes home and does what he suggests. What happens next after he takes the drug is something the reader has probably never experienced. Well, at least not me anyway.

Imagine a world where you blend a steampunk Alice in Wonderland, The Beatles animated film Yellow Submarine, a little Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and you will begin to get an idea of just how odd this other world is. Oh, did I forget to mention you’d need to throw in a bunch of Caligula to the mix as well? Don’t ask me how it all works, it just does. You’d think that you would experience a bit of confusion and shock and you will but, not like you’d think. If you’re looking for some mood music to accompany this story, like a soundtrack if you will, might I suggest the following: Alice Cooper’s ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’, Arthur Brown’s ‘Fire’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark side of the Moon’ and anything by the plutonium rock band Disaster Area. (I would be curious to know what soundtrack the author of this story would recommend.)

In between trips to this world, Paul writes profusely about it though, all he’s really doing is biding his time until his next fix. As Paul becomes more and more addicted to the experiences he has to the drug an underlying issue surfaces. What is reality? What is the real world to people who feel like the physical world they live in holds no meaning to them; they have no ties to it, no normal and necessary anchors like family, friends, community, etc. When we sleep at night, don’t we all experience dreams that occasionally seem like more than a dream? When we are immersed in deep REM sleep isn’t our subconscious mind busy at work processing info and connecting that into a reality that very few can differentiate from waking action? Many religions practice some form of meditation which is, if I understand it correctly—an altered state of mind. Would we tell people who pray or meditate a lot that those experiences aren’t real or meaningful and therefore not as important or “real” as waking life? Paul ends up getting the opportunity to be able to live this imaginative world 24/7. No more drudgery, bills or pain. No more responsibility and no more effort to make life worth living. If given this opportunity would we refuse paradise so easily? This story is fascinating to me. I won’t tell you what happens but, it’s just crazy and engaging, and it makes you wonder about yourself and the human condition. Read this sober, or read it drunk or high. Whatever you chose, just give it a read. Now if you’ll excuse me “…I need to go ask Alice, I think she’ll know…”

Screen Siren by Annabeth Leong

You would have to be living under a rock to not know that zombies are all the rage right now and this story is no exception to that cultural phenomenon. This story can be summarized in this way, think: Shaun of the Dead goes to Hollywood via Tromaville. In this world after the zombie apocalypse, people have learned how to ‘domesticate’ zombies. They are the now the menial slave labor of the general populace doing the jobs nobody wants to do. They are the day laborers, waitresses and in the case of this story, even temporary actors before being shipped off to the fields. Every civilization seems to have a segment of the population that is disposable and nobody knows that better than Hollywood.

In this surreal land of opportunity there are brokerage firms that make last chance deals with these actors. They will commit suicide and right after they die, they will be sent to a casting call to possibly be cast in one final film before being sent to the labor camps. These former living, breathing humans are now property. Supposedly they are checked for total brain death because if there isn’t that total loss of self, the residuals of the individual comes out and they are the ones that attack and eat you. When struggling Z movie director, Sam, happens to get a chance to cast his female lead to a recently departed but not totally gone actress from his fantasies. Jessica Savage, how could he resist? Even if she may eat his pancreas. He has limited time to spend with her or, what’s left of her conscious, soul, being, essence.

This story expertly shows us the ugly and disappointing side of life. It illustrates how things don’t always go the way we want them to or plan on. There is no shying away from it here; it’s all out there for us to see—all pink and naked. The world of fantasy and real life collide here with the force of matter and antimatter in an extreme scene which is referred to as ‘sexual penitence’ in the story. The sheer force of lust and willpower makes for a memorable albeit, repulsive climax. It’s a tragically funny story full of cynicism and of course, rampant sexism. Not from the author directly but rather, through the world of fame and fortune, celebrity and the eternal quest for perpetual youth. Even in this fictional world, women are still viewed as second class citizens and property where their only value is their looks. Welcome to Hollywoodland. But, just because a story is based in Hollywood that doesn’t mean it’s not an entertaining read. For those of you who don’t care for happily ever after endings, this interesting story is for you.

Little Henna Hair by R. W. Whitefield

How can I not give props to a story that uses the phrase,

“…squirrel boys with sincere stripy shirts, shaking their bony asses.”

HAHAHA!!! I couldn’t have come up with a better description of young gothic boys dancing at a club if I tried. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been attracted to my fair share of them. I’ve just never heard it put quite so plainly and I admire the succinct and cogent description utilized here.

This story is about lycanthropy and how young women really shouldn’t be walking alone late at night. The description of the canine/ human in question reminds me of a slightly older, Alcide Herveaux from True Blood. Our gothic little red riding hood sounds like a hottie so it’s no big surprise when Fido decides to track her however, little red ain’t no dummy. She knows something is afoot when she leaves the club after closing time. I appreciate the author’s nod to the X-men’s own wolfish character Wolverine when little red calls out the name Logan after hearing a noise behind her. I mentioned True Blood earlier in this review and indeed I would be remiss if I didn’t concede to the fact that there are huge parallels to that show and this story. Huge like, Grand Canyon huge. I’ll be honest here, this isn’t my favorite story but, it’s alright. Otherwise, if you’re into sexy fairytales, quickies and bestiality, then this one is for you.

HorrorAddicts.net 114, H.E. Roulo

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Horror Addicts Episode# 114

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

h.e. roulo | particle son | the walking dead

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