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Brendan Detzner reviews "The Sexy Serpent" by Christopher Erickson

“The Sexy Serpent,” by Chris Erickson is the story of an unnamed woman who makes a bargain with a tentacled demon named Zoran. In exchange for immortality, she agrees to deliver one hundred men into Zoran’s clutches, thereby allowing the demon to raise itself higher in the hierarchy of hell. In the meantime, another woman, Bridgett, who was also involved with the demon but didn’t take its offer, is charged by God with stopping her counterpart from finishing her task.

The efforts of Bridgett, her love interest, and the police to figure out why all these men are disappearing are basically a subplot. The main focus of the book is a series of scenes in which Zoran’s servant lures (or allows herself to be lured by) a man (or men) to some out of the way place to have sex. They get going, then, at some inopportune moment, the demon Zoran’s tentacles appear out of nowhere and subject the man or men in question to an ugly death. Zoran’s victims are, oddly enough, the best-defined characters in the whole book. They’re at least given enough personality to make it clear what jackasses they are towards women, and enough physical presence to make the sex scene they’re in a little different from the last one. The best thing that can be said about the sex scenes is that they do have a certain weird humor. Those tentacles kind of get to be a running gag- we know they’re coming, but they still manage to surprise us. That’s a good thing, because the punchline about all those scenes have to offer. They’re not erotic and they’re not scary. The last scene in the sequence, involving a bondage/execution device, does manage to be gut-wrenchingly disgusting, but up to that point the gore isn’t nearly inventive enough to hold our attention.

Outside the death sequences, there’s not a whole lot else worth mentioning. None of the characters pursuing Zoran’s servant manage to distinguish themselves in any way. They’re not even stereotypes- they’re plot devices. Their only purpose is to give some kind of structure that the death scenes can be hung on.

The only thing that keeps “The Sexy Serpent” from sinking entirely is its attitude. This is a book with no pretensions whatsoever. It reminds me of old pulp magazines, both in its language and in its goals. It never insults the reader by pretending it has a brain. In a genre that is weighed down with overwrought atmospherics, this approach is refreshing. If the story had some more meat to it, “The Sexy Serpent” might have entertaining. But the way things are, its direct style only helps the time pass more quickly until the book is done.

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