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Jun 02 2012

A Review of Demon Lovers: Succubi edited by Deborah Teramis Christian

On June 1st, 2012, a new anthology of stories about Succubi was released at various eBook sellers sites on the web such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The work is called Demon Lovers: Succubi and contains a total of thirteen stories, all related to, or about, Succubi… It is the first book of a series called Demon Lovers, and is to be followed by another volume which focuses on the myths and legends of Succubi called Succubus Lore & Legend and a second anthology work called Demon Lovers: Incubi. The authors in this anthology are very well known and each brings their own views and concepts of Succubi to this work. It gives a fascinating mosaic of what Succubi are, what they desire, and what in truth they are to themselves and to others. It is not erotica per se. No, what this work is takes you from what you expect Succubi to be, beings of passion and eroticism, and leads you towards what is hidden beneath that veil that few ever see…

Demon Lovers: Succubi edited by Deborah Teramis Christian

Demon Lovers: Succubi edited by Deborah Teramis Christian

The work’s summary tells of:

Welcome to the world of the succubus. She visits your dreams, or she visits your bed. She is sex incarnate: hot, irresistible, and oh so willing. Willing to seduce you, or to destroy you—whatever feeds her needs of the moment.

Join us in this collection of tales about succubi and their encounters with human lovers. Thirteen authors share their vision of the succubus, the legendary creature who feeds on sexual vitality and energy from her victims. Must an encounter with a succubus always be deadly? No—but it is always memorable, for the person she takes into her embrace has something she wants and cannot live without.

Revenge, redemption, loss, lust, desire and love are some of the places these stories will take readers as each succubus reveals a facet of her unique existence.

As this is an anthology of works, I will be reviewing them individually and then the entire work as a whole.   I will give a short summary of each of the stories, and then my thoughts on each, followed by a rating out of five pitchforks. Afterwards will be a summation of my thoughts about the anthology and my hopes for what may appear next in the series.

Homecoming by Nina Harper – Jez had a short life. After she passed on, she was claimed and placed on the path to becoming a Succubus. This night she must claim her first soul to graduate and she appears at her old high school’s homecoming… and to the boy that dumped her and put her on the path to become a Succubus. I think the one thing that Jez represents, more than anything else, is simply revenge. She wants to get that at almost any cost. including disobeying the warnings of those that are teaching her the Succubus way. The thoughts of revenge overcome just about any other thought she has throughout the story and even when she isn’t actively thinking about revenge, she is acting in concert with it. It was, honestly, sad to see how all she was, all that she had become, focused on that one idea and left all else behind. I can’t say that I liked her, it’s hard to like someone like Jez when her life, her existence, is held with the idea of revenge. As a short story of the passage of someone in this universe into being a Succubus, it’s more interesting to read about the world she exists in, and, more so, the Succubus that teaches her. While the story is set in the Succubus in the City universe by this author, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the other books this author wrote. Well written, but the other Succubi were more interesting than Jez was to me. Four out of five pitchforks. Revenge is fine, but a Succubus with only that thought within them bothers me.

Lily in Bloom by Lori Selke – Lily is a Succubus, and part of her life, an important part of it, is to attend meetings of the Demonic Ladies Knitting and Archery Society. A support group for Succubi and though that Lily tries to keep her needs under control. I think the concept of a Succubi Anonymous is a fascinating idea and this author really plays on that idea quite well. Lily herself is unique but also flawed in her own way which added to my enjoyment. More so, the supporting cast of Succubi in the group had their own voices and backgrounds that I felt added a number of layers to this tale. I found myself wondering about all of them, what their own flaws and issues could be, but more so, what they were like outside of the group when they met. It ended far too soon really and I think there is quite a lot more to say in this story universe. Four and a half pitchforks out of five. Wonderful characters, a unique setting, and with such promise.

Blood For Bone by Talitha Kalago – Lucy is in an abusive relationship and it is becoming worse by the day. She dreams of a better life but has no idea how to make it happen… until she meets Sassy who promises the world for a small price. A captivating story that was a joy to read from beginning to end. I liked the mixture of mystery from Sassy and the transformation of Lucy. It also was interesting how the subject of what Sassy wanted was brought up and how Lucy figured out what Sassy was, and her feelings about that. It’s not a story of revenge, that never truly comes into focus as the story progressed, which was nice to see. It’s a story about dreams and desires. The story watches Lucy transform herself for the right reasons with the right help and, in the end, what must be, had to be. A solid five out of five pitchforks. One of the most interesting appearances of a Succubus that I have seen in a long time.

Mother Vinegar by DeAnna Knippling – In the future, human beings carry artificial intelligences within them as they explore space. But what if the AIs have other plans? I found it a rather poetic idea that the AIs that lonely humans have in space are called Succubi. What was more interesting was how the author made the differences between Pickle, one of the Succubi AIs and her mother, Vinegar, so striking through the story. There was conflict between them from the beginning, but also there were two distinct personalities and belief structures in them. While the rest of the AIs and humans, save for Chester, the human that Pickle rode, aren’t well fleshed out, it wasn’t truly needed. It is a battle of wills after all, and that is the focus of the story. The universe is really quite well detailed for being such a short tale and it leaves so many questions unanswered. I would like to see more of this world, I find the mixing of Succubus lore and Science Fiction amazingly well done. Five out of five pitchforks. I’d love to see this as a series or a longer work someday.

In the Manner of His Choosing by Jennifer Pelland – Lilith hunts those that deserve the deaths that she provides. But what defines that deserved fate? Truly a thoughtful story of Lilith and her fate and her mythos. It was an awful thing to read when the truths of the man she comes to claim are revealed. It’s sad beyond words to see what he believes in, what brings Lilith to him, and what Lilith takes from the encounter. Possibly the most thought provoking story in the collection that asks the question what tells us what we deserve? Five out of five pitchforks. Just wonderfully written, well told, and with a lesson to it that really needs to be considered.

We’ll Always Have 9 A.M. by Maitha Moon – Vera is a Succubus and she meets Nicolas in the street one day… and then all heck breaks loose when God rolls the universe’s dice. The one thing that seems to be the core of characters like Vera, at least for the most part when authors write about Succubi, is that they never seem to be able to love someone. In this story, Vera learns some truths she didn’t expect and through them, makes something happen that wasn’t meant to be. I thought the characterizations of God, angels, Vera and Nicolas were really very good. Vera was especially real to me and it was nice to see a Succubus learn something about herself and what she was capable of. Four and a half pitchforks out of five. Bit short and I felt like one important scene was missing but I can’t quite put my finger on that.

Hunger Pains by Diana Pharaoh Francis – Olivia wants to stop being a Succubus because she is in love with a human. She’s made a deal and that will happen soon… or it will if her past doesn’t get in the way of her happiness. A deeply involved story with many well done characters and moments in it. Olivia is the highlight of the piece, but reflected in that is Arash, an Incubus from her past. I thought it was really a good use of both Succubi and Incubi in the business that Arash has and what he does with them. I can see it being a completely possible role for Succubi to play and I think it’s odd that more authors don’t think of it. But what makes the story is the scenes between Olivia and Arash. Not over the top, not silly, not cruel. No, they are real in all of the ways that matter, and it really does matter in this story. Five out of five pitchforks. I would love to see this story turned into a novel. There is so so much promise…

Recovery by Lawrence Scott – Claire and her kind once loved humans, but then things changed and they became lesser beings. Now Claire has met someone that reminds her of what she one was. But how can she be once again? Moments of sadness, love, and realization are throughout this work and the mixture of those moments turn this from what could have been a tragic story into one of hope. Not just for Claire, but for all. It’s emotional, there is no doubt of that. And those emotions are exactly right. There isn’t a false moment in the story and that makes it special. Four and three-quarter pitchforks. I just wish that one moment that didn’t happen for Claire would have at the end.

A Different Approach by Jason Christopher Hosler – Josef resists the affections of a Succubus that comes to him every night… again and again. How long can be possibly last against her powers? Really a surprising story with a twist in it that I didn’t expect. What is seen in the story takes your in one direction and then the conclusion opens a universe that is unexpected, unique, and brings up all sorts of questions to consider. The dualism in the story is well done, Josef and Senta are really quite unique in their own rights. I would have liked a bit more of the reveal at the end. Four out of five pitchforks. There’s a rather large question left unanswered, would have been interesting to know more about how this universe works.

Succubus Chances by C.H. Keyes – Aimee is a Succubus, but she is trying so hard to resist what she is. She has to try. Must try. Just has to try. I have to admit that I couldn’t help but laugh when the end of the story came. I didn’t expect it as the story continued and I have to thank the author for managing the ending she created. I really liked Aimee as a person first and foremost and watching her deal with the needs within her was really a reflection of the person she is. It’s nice to see a Succubus with a conscious. Four pitchforks out of five. The story ends a bit too soon for me. I would have liked to see the aftermath.

Calling Syn by Lilly Cain – Julien summons demons for a living, if you can call it that. This time he summons Syn, a powerful Succubus and then discovers that in doing so, he has opened himself to a very unpalatable fate. This is a short prequel story to a novel that this author will be releasing in the near future called Claiming Syn. From this short work, and the story within it, I really cannot wait to read the longer work. Syn is a perfect Succubus in poise, manners, and abilities and the way she interacts with Julien is a pleasure to read. This story ended far too soon, and I will be looking for this author’s work when it appears. Five out of five pitchforks.

One Drop by Laura Antoniou – When you are into sadomasochism, you must be careful of which Succubus you summon. They will push your boundaries. Really the most violent of all of the stories in the collection, but then the themes within it make that a requirement really. I can’t say that I honestly enjoyed the story, I don’t personally like pain and suffering, so that colours my view of this work. Setting aside that, it’s a well done story of submission and sadomasochism which delves into what darkness awaits in souls. For those that are interested, it’s a story that I think you will enjoy for the emotional ties that appear within it and what happens through them. Four out of five pitchforks. The story is there, I just had problems accepting it for my personal beliefs.

Elise’s Gift by Deborah Teramis Christian – A Succubus intent on revenge, and two lovers. Elise is training in a secret order and she is deeply attached to her friend Julia. Sometimes the universe conspires to make you decide on a choice, whatever that may have to be.  Set as a prequel to this author’s book Queen Victoria’s Transmogrifier, it’s a peek into that world, but also a glimpse of love that is threatened by a power that believes that it is more powerful than love is. The battle for Elise is long and hard fought, but in the end, that makes the climax of the story well worth the ride. I will have to read the novel next as I want to know where the characters wound up from here. A wonderfully told tale and though it, a transformation of the characters that works really well. Five out of five pitchforks.

You’ll probably notice that I haven’t said which story is my favourite. The reason is that in fact three of the stories I really liked and to choose between them I found I couldn’t do. The anthology is well balanced, has a purpose and a direction to it that I think all of the authors embraced in their works. I do wish that the stories were slightly longer as there are many open doors, paths, and directions for them to take.

Some will go there, it’s made quite clear in the anthology that they are, but for those that aren’t I find that a bit of a shame… There are a lot of wonderful universes to play in here and I hope that someday there will be more to come.

Overall, the anthology well rates five out of five pitchforks for the care, the joy, and the abilities of all of the authors to make their characters come alive. And as I finished this collection, my thoughts turned to the next work in the series and the hope that the authors involved in that work can create as wonderful stories as well…

I would like to direct readers of the Tale to this page on Facebook where you will find a survey by the editor of this anthology asking for your thoughts. Please do consider doing so if you would like the chance to win one of two copies of Demon Lovers: Succubi. The contest closes on June 6th and winners will be announced on June 7th, 2012.

Special thanks to Teramis for her kindness in sending me an advance copy of the anthology, it was very kind of her to do so and I hope that the future works in this series bring much success!

 

Tera

2 comments

  1. avatar
    James

    Count on someone named Teramis to choose stories that would please our Queen Tera.

    As for the doors left open, those will be places for our imaginations to travel, and perhaps birth new stories.

  2. avatar
    TeraS

    Oh I hope so…

    Tera

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