DEEP INSIDE

By Polly Frost

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

When thinking about modern erotic horror, dark erotica or erotic SF, one cannot but remember with a touch of nostalgia little masterpieces such as Ramsey Campbell's collection Scared Stiff , the anthologies I Shudder At Your Touch and Shudder Again edited by Michelle Sling, let alone the seminal, long-lasting Hot Blood series edited by Jeff Gelb & Michael Garrett.

Right now, that subgenre seems to have come to a stand-still, so we should welcome with pleasure the appearance of Polly Frost's collection of "extreme erotic fantasies", trying to revitalize the stimulating mix of eroticism and SF/dark fantasy.

I said "we should" because not only is there not much that's "extreme" in Frost's stories, but the erotic aspect itself is seldom convincing and often downright disappointing. If you consider this book as a possible way to ignite your fantasies and get pleasantly aroused you'll be disillusioned.

If, on the other hand, you are just seeking good dark fiction you'll have to object about plots and characters, often shallow and flat.

A few examples. The Threshold is a mediocre attempt to combine the subject of the growing pains of teenagers anxious to lose their virginity with an unlikely supernatural threat from the past.

In the weird The Pleasure Invaders a female cop becomes obsessed with having sex with alien lovers.

The Orifice is about sex and piercing. And boredom...

Playing Karen Devere is a pointless tale where a horny lesbian couple pursuing fame plans to make a movie on a serial killer's life.

Visions of Ecstasy exhibits a weak plot featuring two psychic girls and a lustful man devoted to kinky sex.

Yet Frost is not a bad writer, far from it. You can find evidence of her potential in Test Drive, celebrating the triumph of normal sex between two imperfect, ordinary people over the use of artificial devices transforming lovers into flawless sex objects, and in Imagine it, a journey into the sexual fantasies of a woman devoted to solitary pleasures.

The title story Deep Inside is certainly the best, at least in terms of the plot's solidity, depicting a couple making a living by selling voodoo dildos but taking their risk by playing with black magic.

Thus, while I'm failing the book, I'm passing the writer, with the proviso that she presents us soon with a more mature work (as I'm sure she can do)

Deep Inside by Polly Frost. TOR Books tpb 270 pages; $ 12.95. Available from various online outlets, including amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Website: - www.tor.com


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