My god! I really wish I hadn't read this book.
I knew before I started on this one that it wasn't going to be a light read, but even knowing that, I certainly didn't expect it to be quite so intense. It starts out with our protagonist, Val, travelling around from country to country and city to city as she always does. Being wealthy she can do as she pleases and so seems to have dedicated her life to the pursuit of pleasure, but even pleasure gets a little tedious after a while and she begins to think about a place known only as 'The City', a place her mother spoke of when she was little. By all accounts it's a place of such great pleasures and perversions that you'll never experience anything like it, ever, no matter what.
So, off she goes in search of a man she knows who she thinks may be able to direct her to this wonderous place. She finds him of course and here it begins to get a little stranger, with a more fantastical feel to the story. Surfice to say there's an incense burner and a lot of green flame and hey-presto you're in another place, yep, you're in 'The City'.
Up until now the story is much as I'd been led to believe, a bit of sex here and there and perversions noticed in passing and taken part in too, but once our, now two, protagonists enter 'The City' everything really turns perverted in the most extreme fashion you can imagine. The next god-knows-how-many-pages take you on a ride through just about every torturous, perverted, sick and depraved sexual activity that you'll ever have the displeasure to endure. I use the word endure because that's what it was for me. It truly was a test of endurance. I passed the test by reaching the end of this awful ride when Val manages to escape the sick perversions of 'The City' along with a young girl she brings with her back to the mundane world(who's mother incidently turns out to be her friend, Majeed, who she initially thought was a man only to find out quite early on is actually a hermaphradite). Majeed decides to stay on in 'The City' for reasons of his own, which I found to be a little odd, but then after forcing myself on through this sick-fest of a story, nothing really surprises me for long anymore.
Anyway, what can I say about a book like this?
Well, I can say in all honesty that I hope I never meet the author. I'm sure she's a very pleasant, well adjusted young lady, but am I willing to take the chance that she may be otherwise? No. No I'm really, seriously not. You could say that everything I've said here could be taken as a huge compliment, and you'd be right. It could. Or you could say that this story lingers on the sick and perverted acts with just that little bit too much gusto and zeal, and you'd be right there too. You could also say that the characters are well written as is the story as a whole, and you'd also be right there too. But when all's said and done I'm looking for books to take me out of a world I find to be quite dull and a little lacking at the best of times, a book whose story and characters I care about and want to either get behind or rail against or at least feel some sort of affinity with. Unfortunately, where this book fails for me is in the fact that I not only can't relate at all to any of the very unlikable characters, but the story itself goes where only a very sick mind would want to follow. This is a strange thing to say considering I love a good horror story and can usually take pretty much anything a novel, or in fact a movie can throw at me. I think what makes the difference here is the very fact that there really isn't any redeeming factor at all. It's characters are depressingly self-centred and intensly unlikable, while their goals in life amount to nothing more than the persuit of greater and greater perversions and more and more invented tortures. The sole thing of note that this novel left me with was a very deep and very unwelcome feeling of depression. And I mean that in a very real sense. I felt depressed. For hours and hours afterwards.
I'm entirely at a loss to find one single thing to recommend about this book to anyone. So why am I giving it 4 stars then? That doesn't make sense, right? Well, as much as this book left me with a lot of feelings I'd rather have not had, it is well written(even given the unlikable characters) and there is a story of sorts(if you're an unashamed sado-masochist at the most severe torture-porn end of the scale)
So. Not my cup of tea at all. I couldn't wait to finish it. I'm so glad I am finished it!
...and yet, I still feel it deserves 4 stars.
God, I'm soo depressed!