First I need to get a few things out of the way.
For starters, Sakura is an American and a native English speaker. On top of that, she’s an English teacher. Since I am none of these three, I am in no way placed to comment on her language. So my review will not touch on the subject of language, vocabulary, sentence structure or style.
Secondly, I am relatively unfamiliar with the issues of the transsexual community, apart from being 100% supportive of the entire LGBTX spectrum. This book has a few layers, one being a metaphorical approach to the struggle a person might go through during their transition and the pain and confusion they might feel as a result from their gender dysphoria. This aspect, to me, is expounded brilliantly. The entire story is a testimony to the plight of anyone who’s been touched by this, or any gender or sexuality related issue. I applaud Sakura’s insight and empathy.
Lastly, I must say that the atmosphere and setting of the story are also new to me. I’ve read my fair share of erotica, but I hadn’t encountered any horror aspect as in this story yet. It all started pleasantly enough, just two friends preparing for a night of cheap wine, cheap movies and who knows, giving in to long suppressed feelings of infatuation and desire. But then the third character enters the stage, and the entire setting takes a turn for the worse. And I mean this in a good way. I needed some time to get into this new mood, but Sakura brilliantly mixes a more conventional erotic narrative with a deluge of imagery and happenstances that remind us of the days of Tales of the Crypt, for those who are old enough to remember, or young enough to have seen the reruns.
And this is where yet another, infinitely deeper layer becomes apparent. Although hinted at with words, as a reader you actually feel the duality of the situation, the conflicting emotions of fear and desire, of confusion and betrayal that the protagonist has to deal with. And this, supplementing what I mentioned higher up, offers the reader an interactive immersion into the emotional roller coaster that one might imagine a transgender person has had to deal with before, during and after their period of transition. Confusion, guilt, fear, desire…it’s all there. On the surface with words, and below the surface with giving the reader a glimpse of what it must be like.
Want to walk a mile in the shoes of a transgender person? Read this story. You’ll be delighted, frightened and educated, all in the short enough time it takes to flip through this book.
I may never become a fan of the mixture of horror and erotica, but I am a fan of Slumber Party Succubus. And by extension, of its author.
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