Review: Orchid Carousals by Lucy A. Snyder
$2.99; 117 pages; August, 2013
By Lucy A. Snyder
Creative Guy Publishing
Orchid Carousals is a delightfully dark, erotic collection that draws a line between love and lust, between goodness and sin. Divided into three parts—Shimmer Stories, Apocalyptic Love, and Random Play—Lucy A. Snyder embraces the fantastical elements of surrealism and magic with a dreamlike play that is sure to seduce readers into turning the next page.
The first part of the collection, Shimmer Stories, is based within the world of her female protagonist, Jessie Shimmer—a character found in Snyder’s novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess. These shorts were among my favorites in the collection as they took erotica to a level that moved beyond the sexual foreplay and titillation that the genre is known for. What Snyder does here is incorporate world building and the supernatural to introduce new ideas and concepts to the erotica genre. Think of it almost as hybrid fantasies: people who feed off of sex, attraction via spells and potions, bodily additions for more foreplay. Her characters can do things that most of us can only think about in our wildest dreams, and the sex that happens isn’t just sex for the sake of sex. In her worlds, sex is a part of the culture and usually a solution to the conflict and not an escape from it. For example, read her piece, “At the Royal Orchid” and see how one drink and a flower tattoo can make for a deliciously sinful night for everyone involved.
In Part Two, Apocalyptic Love, Snyder takes a futuristic approach to what can only be called dystopian love stories. Readers are presented to characters that are presented with quarantines, disease, and isolation but find escapism through the relationships that they’ve formed with like-minded people. In some cases, these are people who they’ve known for long amounts of time, in other instances it can only be described as coincidence, maybe even fate. Unlike the pieces in Shimmer Stories, these pieces possess a hardened strength and attitude in their prose. Snyder uses a mixture of tone and mood, pain and pleasure, to seesaw back and forth between the severity of the situation and the release from it. For instance, in her piece, “In The Wilderness,” Sister Cordelia, a woman who is so used to being alone and living with the bare minimum, is suffering the loss of her husband in a world where her every action is dictated by the virus spreading around her. But when her most prized possession is stolen—a teddy bear with a recording of her husband’s voice inside of it—she leaves her pod and happens upon a young drifter, a girl whose innocence and allure make Cordelia wonder if maybe there is something worth stepping out of her protection suit for after all.
Part three, Random Play, is a mixture of flash, short fiction, and poetry. Snyder plays with form and structure in a more mainstream fashion that readers will both enjoy and learn from. Here we see her poetic talents in prose as well as her sense of humor, especially in pieces like “How to Get a Goth Out of a Tree,” and “True Romance.” Anything is possible in this section, anything from a succubus crashing a party, to a gassy partner writing love poems in his sleep.
Her collection is a refreshing addition to the erotica genre as it’s not the stereotypical romp that the genre tends to fall under. Sure, there’s sex, but there are also great stories to accompany the sensuality. It’s fantasy, it’s doomsday love, and it’s mainstream erotica all at once. Highly recommended.
–Stephanie M. Wytovich