Little Deaths

Little Deaths

Prepare to have nightmares for the rest of your life.

In May, I was fortunate enough to win a small writing contest which awarded me a $25 gift card to Amazon.com. I had planned on saving it for holiday gifts, but I caved and purchased books for my daughter and myself. It was so much fun waiting for them in the mail; I remember a time when I could regularly “reward” myself this way for anything that I was proud of. Since I only buy used books, it’s pretty convenient.

Among the books I selected, Ellen Datlow’s collection of erotic horror, Little Deaths, was among them. When I saw the genre, which seemed bizarre, I knew I had to have the book. I have been trying my hand at supernatural romance and erotica for a little while now and I had to know about this format of the art. When you think about it, erotica and horror have always gone hand in hand; why else would slasher films be filled with buxom beauties and sex?

But this book is no slasher film. On the contrary, it’s filled with disturbing links between sex and the grotesque, the macabre, and it’s brimming with images that will stick with you for days. I know because they have with me. If you’re not of the faint of heart and you think you can handle, say, molesters getting their comeuppance, or vampires attacking a non-traditional body part, or the most vivid sexual art you’ve ever encountered, maybe you should give this book a try. Don’t go in expecting Scream; expect something otherworldly, something much more like Pan’s Labyrinth than any horror sex you’ve come to expect.

It has certainly expanded my experience with both horror and erotica, and I feel like a better writer for having read it. Having read these incredible (and horrible) scenarios, I think I can approach the speculative fiction market with a wider scope—and I have felt this way after reading every collection that Datlow has to offer, to tell you the truth. Most of her collections are filled with wonder and magic, if not enough scariness to creep you out for the unforeseeable future. Even her children’s collections are simply that enjoyable. I really believe that her compilations are the best I’ve ever read, and if I win another gift card you can bet I’ll be buying another two or three of them like I did this time.

Now I’m on to my next collection compiled by the brilliant editor—Sirens and Other Demon Lovers.