Nothing But Fun in the No-No Zone — Shon Richard’s “The Dark Lords of the Earth”
If there’s a trick at all to writing weird smut, it’s finding that balance between the background tang of strangeness (that sharp, shocking flavour that is essential to the good stuff) and the sex itself. That, and of course maintaining a consistent voice throughout the piece that brings the two (seemingly at odds) elements together. It’s a tough trick to pull off: you want the Strange and the Sexy to mesh, to actually merge. Not to put too fine a point on things, but you want them to fuck, and fuck well. This does not happen with the rote paranormal (“you can’t spell paranormal without normal!”) erotica; often the weirdness is merely set dressing.
A tough trick to pull off. Unless you’re Shon Richards. (Note: I am so glad to have discovered Shon Richards!)
The Dark Lords of the Earth is a lot of things, and I like all of them! It’s supremely weird, for starters: Richards has taken as his subject the DERO of Richard Shaver, a completely crank pseudo alien abduction conspiracy theory I hadn’t even heard of until reading this book (and I know my crank, ladies and entities!) involving little hairy men from beneath the hills. Little horny men, in vast subterranean caverns crammed with bizarre sex-machinery and super-powered fuck-batteries. They’re abductors, stealing people from the surface: drugs, hypnosis, weird chakra-tweaking technology.
That’s the weirdness. The ditzy narrator of The Dark Lords of the Earth is “Leanne”: she provides both the sex and the voice and what a voice! An ultra-conservative right wing “good Christian woman” who, along with her two gal pals, is abducted by the Deros while on a girls-only camping trip. Her narrative voice is not only hilarious in its naiveté, it’s incredibly fun and utterly consistent. Not once does this woman break character! I kept waiting for her to eventually crack and start referring to her anatomy by more commonplace porn-y terms but nope! It’s her “no-no zone” all the way! The more times she dropped this term, the funnier it got, and it reminded me in a lot of ways of old William Lazenby’s Victorian heroines in The Pearl: so stuck in their social and mental constrictions that even as their sexual vistas are being stretched beyond sense, their language remains prudish. It creates this remarkable tension which is highly amusing but also hot.
Leanne finds that the suppressed memories of her abduction by the underground men rise to the surface of her consciousness when she engages in the same sexual acts that she performed while under their influence, and this quest to learn the truth of her experience is what drives the plot. Richards has a deft hand with this material, nicely playing off Leanne’s present playtimes against the flashbacks she experiences during the sex. As a result, the reader gets a brilliant kind of double-exposure effect. It truly is twice the bang for your buck!
Leanne’s supporting characters (her dopey husband, her secretly promiscuous chubby church-lady friend, her neighbour’s horndog college-age son) are all clearly less naive than Leanne, and it’s definitely delicious watching the interplay between the sweet-but-seeking Leanne and her disingenuous partners. Is she being taken advantage of? Kind of, but then again, she’s also using them to plumb dark secrets about herself and the Deros to advance herself beyond the strictures of her own life. But if I say anymore, I’ll ruin the ending!
Shon Richards has been doing this stuff a lot longer than me, and I am only just getting into his books, but if The Dark Lords of the Earth is any indicator, I’m going to be having a great time going through the catalogue!
I was going to post this review to the Amazon page for the book, but what with all the censorship crap that is happening over there these days (and on the Kobo and B&N shelves, too — lock it down, publishing behemoths! “Good Christian women” aren’t your only customers!) I’ve decided to just keep my thoughts here for now (once things have calmed down over there, I’ll post it on Amazon) and instead give you links a-plenty below. Go get The Dark Lords of the Earth if you want a fun, kinky, strange time! (Don’t be fooled by the nature scene on the cover, either… that’s some clever smokescreening on Shon’s part to baffle the censors.)
Buy it direct from Shon’s website > http://shonrichards.com/buy-my-e-books
Buy it from Amazon