Reviewed by Stewart Horn
This is collection of erotic horror stories by Barbie Wilde, best known as The Female Cenobite from the Hellraiser movies. It seems to have caused a stir and I was interested to see what the fuss was about.
There are eleven stories altogether, all of which I enjoyed, each accompanied by an original illustration by well-known artists including Clive Barker. The images add a lot to collection and I hope they keep them in when the paperback is released.
It starts with Sister Cilice, the first of the trilogy about her character from Hellraiser, and it sets the tone nicely for the rest of the book. It’s a fabulously over the top romp in which a sexually frustrated nun summons the cenobites and becomes one. The sensual and gruesome detail are wonderful.
Zulu Zombies is what you would expect from the title: a descendant of a Rorke’s Drift survivor accidentally releases the vengeful spirits of every Zulu who died at the battle. Mayhem and zombie rape ensue.
American Mutant is a juicy tale of a televangelist and his biblically cursed offspring.
In The Alpdrücke a man is threatened in his sleep by a comical yet terrifying creature, and Valeska puts sex right where it belongs in the heart of the vampire canon.
The Cilicium Pandoric returns to the cenobites in a beautifully gory tale about a toymaker who specializes in puzzle boxes…
Gaia is a little girl who takes rather seriously the Greek myths she was told as a child, and the Polyp is the yuckiest and squishiest story in the collection, guaranteed to make your buttocks clench. I could almost smell it.
Imagine the cheesiest 1950s sci-fi plot and how scary it would be if it was real, and you’ve got Botophobia, and in Writer’s Block an author at a convention gets an invitation he could hardly resist. It doesn’t end well.
The collection ends with The Cicilium Rebellion, completing the trilogy with an epic battle in which hell is destroyed and Cilice sets about repopulating it with her own offspring.
This book is not for everyone: the sex and violence are very graphic and the prose is occasionally a little clunky and over-written. There are several scenes of non-consensual sex which might make some readers uncomfortable, but she treats both sexes equally badly so at least it’s not misogynistic.
If you like your horror subtle, literary and multi-layered then look elsewhere.
But taken on its own terms, it’s a blast. Ms. Wilde tells a good story, and delivers the carnage with such gusto that it’s hard not to have fun. Every story is liberally splattered with blood and semen, and I imagine Barbie giggling in naughty delight as she writes.
Overall, a sensual delight, a treat for those who enjoy a touch of depravity.