WHAT in the VICTIM-BLAMEY BULLSHIT did I JUST READ???
Okay, listen, I’m on board with the consensual monster-fucking. No question.
I will read ten bajillion versions of the same basic Beauty & the Beast plot where we literally or metaphorically marry the creepy creature, and then discover that that there is actually a soulmate. Great! Gets me every time!
I am even fully down for the variations where the monster love interest has totally non-human anatomy – it requires authorial creativity that I enjoy, and sometimes even manages to buck heteronormative definitions of sex and replace them with genuine human connection. Great! Full of potential!
There are about two thirds of this book that do that (minus the bucking heteronormativity part – these two can’t keep a consistent idea of whether they’ve had sex or not for five minutes until there’s an albeit-tentacled penis involved, though they sure do try). Our heroine and her monster love interest form a bond. They connect. They figure each other out – emotionally and physically. They have wall-to-wall biologically inadvisable sex. It’s a good time!
And then the LAST third of the book happens.
And we…go in perhaps the grossest direction possible.
There’s no gentle way to describe this, so I’m just going to be blunt:
We meet the woman our monster love interest considers to be the ex that broke his heart.
Except, from her perspective, he kidnapped and raped her.
And she’s supposed to be the ANTAGONIST here. Because she broke his heart. Because he didn’t KNOW that he RAPED HER because she didn’t communicate WELL ENOUGH, APPARENTLY.
Our heroine blames this woman for not clearly communicating a no. Even after being told, quite clearly, that she was afraid if she said no she would be killed.
So she waited. And let her captor literally magically re-arrange her organs to fit his literal tentacled penis. And then she ran away with a demon, because at least that was a doom that she CHOSE.
I’ll say it again: this is our antagonist. This is the bad guy. This is the person we’re narratively NOT supposed to be able to forgive. This is the plot device that says “look how cruel a person can be, never managing to see past the monster.”
And…okay, here’s the thing: I’m trying to come up with a generous way to frame this. Because there is maybe a version of this story where nobody is truly in the wrong: we have a monster gradually becoming more human, we have the person who brings out that humanity, and we have another person that he hurt severely before he was capable of seeing what that even meant.
There is a story there where everyone is hurt, and everyone is healing, and everyone is trying to be better than the creature they once were.
But that isn’t THIS story.
This story thinks it’s not rape if you didn’t shout no loudly enough.
And you’re besmirching the good name of an upstanding tentacle-penised young man by blaming anyone but yourself.
If I had not been reading this book on kindle, I would have simply given in to the impulse to yeet it right out the window and into oncoming traffic.
Much (exasperated) love,
Cannonball Read 15 BINGO: In the Wild
(Because even if you’re only in the woods because you’ve been kidnapped by a skeleton demon thing – you are still in the woods! That’s, like, almost camping. Sort of!)