Succubus Bites by Lila Shaw
The final review of a series that have I written over the past week or so which covered the works of the author Lila Shaw. The final review is of the anthology Succubus Bites, which is a series of individual stories about quite a group of differing Succubi.
Being one the Succubi means, many times, that the trials and tribulations encounters can take you to your limits. Some of them are physical, some are sexual, and some of them push the boundaries of right and wrong. The question is, as it should be, what one decides to do… and if one can be okay with it.
They are, always, more.
The work tells the story of:
Check your happy ending expectations at the door, though you might still smile.
Succubus Bites is a collection of dark erotica short stories arranged into five thematic groupings — Reformation, Rage, Recreation, Reconciliation and Redemption — featuring seventeen succubi, sixteen completely different settings, sixteen tasty sin nuggets. Dystopian, space opera, historical, contemporary, zombies, pirates and vampires and a dash of cyber-punk offer readers an erotic sampler.
Bronwyn, Corinne & Delilah and Erin learn the hard way that the company they keep matters gravely in tales of Reformation.
Maeve, Ursula, Quetzl and Tasmin battle anger and other indignities of their existence in tales of Rage.
Felicity, Solange, Helena and Iris embrace their friskier and darker natures in tales of Recreation.
Raina, Gaia and Kismet find new means of coping and acceptance in tales of Reconciliation.
And finally, Yvette and Zoe discover that Redemption, though rare, is possible with a magical ingredient.
As I normally do with anthologies, I will review each of the stories and then give an overall review to the collection as a whole:
Bronwyn – A girl sees a guy in a bar and soon finds out that some guys aren’t guys… Or good for that matter. A story of entrapment, of being caught in a web and not having a way out because the one that has trapped you gives no chance for thought or escape. A bit on the violent side, and really, as a whole, it’s a quick and to the point story of how one Succubus came to be and what her future is. I thought that Bronwyn was a bit disappointing in how she acted in the story, how she allowed herself to get put into the position she got into. She has no time to do anything save react to the demon she’s encountered and that’s a bit frustrating as a whole. The erotica is more domination than anything else and it felt… off. Three out of five pitchforks.
Corinne & Delilah – Two sisters in search of husbands attend a ball and find that the words spoken in teasing can quickly turn into words that lead to lusts and beyond. Another story of entrapment, this time of two sisters. The thing is that in this case the sisters were looking to entrap and the tables are turned upon them. The dance is not just physical, but also mentally a challenge and in being so, I though that it was a very good story. Again, the themes are one of domination and transformation with no choice given, or asked for. The heat is lovely, and overall the tone I think worked well in the setting the story was placed in. Four out of five pitchforks,
Erin – A woman awakes with no memory of who she is, where she is. The pieces slowly come together, but as well, the need within her does as well. There is a secret, one she needs to understand and when she does, the truth of her name becomes very clear. A science fiction themed work in which the main character tries to gather herself together again. It reads very much like a mystery as it unfolds and I thought that worked very well. The reality of Erin’s situation, who she is, and what she is, remains nicely hidden to the last moment. A bit tangentially connected to the concept of Succubi, but in a way that makes sense. A very strong story, a bit of heat to carry things along and well written. Four out of five pitchforks.
Maeve – A Succubus on the prowl collects her prey in the office they share. On the outside she’s everything he wants her to be, but on the inside, she’s coldly calculating his downfall at her hands. There’s an interesting interplay in this work in seeing what Maeve does on the outside compared with what she’s thinking. She wears a mask to the outside world, designed only to draw in her prey, to hold them fast. She makes them believe they are in control, but, in truth, she is. Listening to her inner monolog over what’s happening, what she thinks about the man she’s with, and what she intends to do when she’s finished with him is a real contrast to the first series of stories in the collection. Here the Succubus isn’t the victim, she’s in control if only to sate her own needs at the expense of the one she’s with. The erotica has some heat, some power to it, but really the main core in this story is the thoughts that Maeve has which tells much about her. Three and a half out of five pitchforks.
Ursula – The apocalypse has arrived and things look grim. A group of survivors try to keep things together, but mistakes happen, people die, and a Succubus has to survive after all doesn’t she? As a whole I think this story is the weakest of the collection simply because I found I didn’t really care very much for any one the characters, including the Succubus herself. It’s a “end of the world” story that has it’s own kind of truth, which works in the universe it is set, but the characters themselves aren’t gripping when compared with all of the events that happen around them. When one character makes a very large mistake and the Succubus is revealed, a lot of the preceding story makes a lot more sense. It isn’t really erotic as a whole, there is a bit of mind control in passing that I thought made sense, but beyond that I just couldn’t find my way into this work. Two out of five pitchforks.
Quetzl – Some video game Succubi are, in fact, Succubi. One should be careful with who one plays with. A story that I thought was very interesting in how it told the story of a Succubus that was held within a video game and her interaction with one of the players. I think as a whole, this concept would make for a good work on its own, mainly to find out how she got there, if she ever gets out, and one of the questions that puzzled me… How “real” is time for her there? Lots of questions that I enjoy, a fascinating Succubus that had a very strong character and motives. Possibly the strongest of the stories in the collection. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
Tasmin – A Succubus in the wastelands needs to feed. She finds someone, latches onto them, and finds history repeating itself. I reviewed this story previously and, like then, I didn’t really enjoy this work all that much. The Succubus herself was a bit too cold for my liking, situation or not. While a lot of that was the world she inhabits, and I accept that, she was too cold for me. But it’s more than that. She didn’t think, considering her situation, and that bothers me. If things are as bad as they seem to be, what she did was not at all the smartest thing that a Succubus has ever done. Two out of five pitchforks.
Felicity – A ship at sea has a Succubus visiting the crew in their dreams. Or is the Succubus among them all in the waking hours as well? A well written game of cat and mouse as a whole that had an amazing atmosphere. The main character has many layers and as they are revealed, they tell a story that I found captivating. Not so much erotic a work as much of that was done off the page, but rather a view of the day to day moments of a crew at sea and the odd situation they are in. The work ends on a sad note, but also opens the way to something that I would have liked to have seen unfold as well. Really well done and one of my favourites in this collection. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
Solange – A Succubus librarian finds herself dealing with someone that drives her crazy. Crazy enough that she loses control and more than just the books get shelved. My absolute favourite story of the collection by far. The most wonderful story that mixes in the need of a Succubus and what happens when she loses control. From the first word this was something that spoke to me. Solange is simply wonderful and really is the single Succubus in this collection that I adore beyond all others. I’d love to see a book devoted to her. There’s something about her personality, the struggle inside of herself, that was simply amazing. And, after all, Tera, the Queen of the Succubi is the Head Librarian of her Realm after all. Five out of five pitchforks.
Helena – A Succubus finally has a chance to see what her professor is like. She’s been thinking about this moment for a very long time and she intends to take every advantage of her power, and his need. My third favourite story, mainly because of Helena’s personality. I liked that she was seductive, knew how to use her abilities, and in the end, to get what she needed, so very badly that she could taste it, and let him have all that he imagined. The work ends on a hilarious note, one that just fit the story perfectly. A hot flash that held more than the erotica within the tale. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
Iris – There is such a thing as good Succubi and Incubi that give others their dreams. Sometimes the dream is one that shouldn’t be forgotten… but is. My second favourite story in the collection for the simple reason that it’s romantic. fun, and has a bit of an edge to it. The story is telling, reveals a lot and I really did enjoy it very much. Both of the characters were strong and held a lot of emotion within them. The erotic moments are perfect and passionate and more. The work ends with a twist, really a sad one, and I wanted the story to go a bit further forward from where it ended but didn’t. That, more than anything, was the real shame. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
Raina – Some Succubi are not quite Succubi, but are what they are because of a vampire. Even the undead have secrets they keep from each other, even those that are the width of a human hair. A story of keeping secrets from the one you love, including those that they thought they could provide you with. There’s a real sadness within Riana in the story over what she has to do, the tightrope she walks. In telling that story, in seeing all that she has to do, it’s a hard thing at times and that comes through in her words. Four out of five pitchforks.
Gaia – A Succubus looks to have a moment with a superhero, and when the moment comes, and they both do, she discovers what “super” really means. A cute story that allowed a glimpse into a world where superheroes are commonplace as are demons, Succubi and Incubi. The best part of this story is the interaction between Gaia and an Incubus friend of hers that I couldn’t help laughing over each time it happened. A rich tapestry and a world that would be lovely to return to and find out more about. Four out of five pitchforks.
Kismet – Even in space there are Succubi and sometimes the universe itself shudders at what they are capable of. Another well written and enthralling piece of writing that mixes a touch of science fiction with the abilities of a Succubus. While the story is set as being a small part of a larger event, it also has a clear and sharp focus through the eyes of Kismet that tells much about her, but not so much that questions aren’t left behind. The heat is slightly muted, but really it isn’t the core of the story. That comes to listening to Kismet’s thoughts as she carries out her plans, what she needs to do and how she sees things. At the end, when a twist appears. it isn’t out of place and really leads towards that larger story again. Another tale that I would like to see more of. Four out of five pitchforks.
Yvette – There is a story about a Succubus and an Incubus winning their freedom from a demon. What if another pair tries as well? This work returns to the world that appeared in Soul of the Succubus, which I loved dearly. I had wondered about what the implications would be for those in this universe that were in the same situation, wanting their freedom, and this story is very satisfying for that and more. A tie for my second favourite work of this collection and really it’s hard to choose between the two. I loved, dearly, Yvette and Icarus, how they connected, the way they spoke to each other. There was an undercurrent from the first page that they were meant to be together and I was rooting for them both throughout the story. Past the moments of erotica, beyond the silly and fun moments that appear in the work, it’s the realization of the truth, that single moment, that just was perfect here. Just wonderful and truly made me smile. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
Zoe – A Succubus and an Angel encounter each other again and a chance is offered. Accept the truth and be free. Just a beautiful story about possibilities. Another tie for my third favourite work of the collection and that’s mainly because the story is just so… right. Really there’s no other way to put things, you’d have to read the story to understand, but in so many ways all of the things that Zoe expresses are right. It’s the journey to accepting the truth, to take a chance, to see that there is, always, a way out. It’s being willing to see it, to accept it, and deep within yourself. to know what the truth is. That’s never an easy thing and for Zoe, it can’t be, nor should it be. Past that moment, the story is sweet and passionate, the ending leaving me with a warm smile and the best way to close out the collection. Four and a half out of five pitchforks.
The collection as a whole works well to tell an overall story that goes from what once was to what is and then into what could be. There are some bumps along the way, but, in them also comes the truth that not all stories are happy ones. But the thing is that they can be. It’s just a matter of a Succubus believing that she’s more than she’s allowed to be.
Many of the stories here need to be expanded into longer works. Really there’s so many good ideas, amazing characters, and more that it would be a shame otherwise. At the same time, having these little glimpses is a treat and a gift and one that I did cherish.
There’s a lovely thing that each story has at the beginning which is a quote from a “famous” Succubus and, in all honesty, I adored them. Especially the ones from Lilith herself and, as I have mentioned before, I would love the author to write something from Lilith’s point of view. There’s a mischief in her words, but also a deep understanding, caring, about her own. Along with Lilith’s little asides, those of the other Succubi, both in personality, book and so forth that are quoted from, set up an overall universe of the Succubi that I’d like to see more of.
There are secrets, and seeing them… That would be a story.
For the collection as a whole, I’ll give four out of five pitchforks.
Well recommended, enjoyed, and more.
My thanks to Lila for playing in the world of the Succubi and my best wishes and hopes for her writing always…