Welly Welly well! Ms. Rice has always been a wonderfully serious romance writer at the edges of something more. What darkness her vampires live! And her ghosts and witches and all the rest! What feral natures, possibilities, limitless!
One of the great things about her writing is that the romance is always present: scenes between males, paternal-child, women, EVERYONE! Even if there is no s-e-x between characters, there is always the presence of romantic language, exotic settings, and of course dark alternative underbellies.
It is natural for Rice to turn at some point to BDSM, methinks. Her stories all involve the language of control, of power, of usurpation and sensuality. A great fit! So when Ms. R. and I checked this one (the first of a trilogy) out of the local library, there was literary and romantic interest afoot. What better setting than a fairy tale? what better character than a sleeping beauty? What better question than “what does happily ever after really mean?”
Yup. Beauty is awakened and then harnessed to the will of her Prince Charming who hauls her back to his kingdom to be a slave of passion and love to him. Her training is willing and begins immediately, on the journey. She is stripped down and paraded, learns the beauty of the paddle, what other responsibilities servants may have, etc. The book is Story of O, except in a kingdom and castle. She is degraded and loves it, a willing participant, student, submissive.
The whole kingdom appears to be bound up in matters sensual. The castle has a slave hall, great training parties, all sorts of equipment and people, roles and expectations. Yet is a marvel to which layer after layer unveiled to Beauty. The only real absence of expectations lies in gender accountability. Whatever the tendancis of individuals, everyone slave is up for grabs by anyone. It’s a wide open festival of the limitless.
So why does Beauty cry so much? Ms. r. and I talked about it. There’s no real reason. Beauty wants to serve, embraces the lifestyle, never objects, is naturally sensual. Why all the crying? It goes on and on, public and private, alone and not. Why? It is not sensual, does not serve the story, and only puts a harsh on the buzz.
And here is another thing: the only word used for the human ass is buttock. Given all the paddling (there’s TONS) one finds one self reading “buttock” over and over and over, if outloud as Ms. R and I did, it first brings grins, then guffaws. No Arse Ass Bottom Cheeks. Nope. Only BUTTOCK! And the word mount gets a pretty good work out in the same way. Aren’t there OTHER words?
And so much of the training, virtually all of it, is a matter of public sport. Prince Charming comes and goes (or the otherway around) but with Beauty it is always in a room full of people. Do they not have a private and personal relationship? Can there be real intimacy before a crowd? it undermines the story a bit in this regard.
The story, in this book, is fairly limited in terms of BDSM activity. My supposition is that in the next two books it becomes much more varied and creative. My criticism here is that if you are looking for new ideas, new omelettes to make, you probably will not find it here. We delighted in picking this up, reading aloud, having fun with it. Great literature it is not. But it is broadly romantic, tepidly spiced, and given the body of Rice’s work, worth a look. Now, back to the library with you. We shan’t seek out the other volumes but if someone leaves them on the step like an abandoned puppy, we will have a wee look and pass it along. 6 months ago