Horror Between the Sheets
Originally for Raw, New Things #16, 5/1/2005
|Does anyone remember how I started my review of Eldritch
Blue in "Raw, New Things" #13? Anyone? Do you want some time to look it up?
Because that's OK, I'll wait.
Well, for those of you who don't remember, the review started out like this: "You'd think that after the abysmal disappointment of Starry Wisdom, I'd never buy a "sex and Cthulhu" anthology again."
Such a promising start; I should pay attention to my own articles more often. But apparently, I have difficulty taking my own advice. Emboldened by the quality of the Horrors Beyond collection, and hungry for more Lovecraft pastiches, I picked up a "sex and Cthulhu" anthology, this one a collection of the best stories and poetry from Cthulhu Sex magazine, called Horror Between the Sheets. In order to feel like I got at least some minuscule compensation for my $13, I am writing this review.
Horror Between the Sheets is a 163 page anthology of fiction and poetry, culled as the best from Cthulhu Sex magazine. If this is "the best" of said magazine, the publishers really need to change said periodical's title. In this anthology, there is precious little Cthulhu, and in several of the stories, the sex is nearly nonexistent. And after reading William Jones' well tied together Horrors Beyond, the scattered nature of Horror Between the Sheets was a definite disappointment.
Which is not to say that all the stories are terrible, but on occasion I was reminded of a rejection letter that a friend of mine once received. It said "This is not a story because in a story something happens." A good story, especially a Lovecraftian one, has a bit of innovation that makes the subject matter feel fresh and new. "Romancing the Worm" for example, has some interesting ideas in it, and there's some icky sex involved, and culminates in an actual Lovecraftian twist at the end.
"Go Team" is tolerably well written, but relies strictly on Judeo-Christian depictions of demons and demonic magic, right down to the importance of the sacrifice's virginity. Sex, definitely, but where's the Lovecraft? Many of the stories, in fact, have little to do with the anthology's title, and in fact are barely stories, as defined above. Jodi Brerozek's "Skin" is simply about an adolescent girl who exhibits the behavior called 'cutting' which is to say that she draws patterns into her skin with a razor. An uncommon and disturbing behavior, and in the story she manages to make it cool enough that she achieves some sort of popularity in her school, at which point the story ends. No point, no conclusion, it's very unsatisfying because so little happens.
Ultimately this collection feels like it had very little editorial direction; the stories have very little in common, being tied together with neither sex, Cthulhu, nor any other theme that I could detect. The proficiency of the writing varies from amateurish to acceptable, but never rises particularly far above that. Quickly summed up, this is an uninteresting collection of stories, the majority of which have absolutely nothing to do with Lovecraft's legacy whatsoever.