Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.On the one hand, this never quite reached the heights of weirdness and depravity that I thought the concept was capable of. On the other hand, it often exceeded the quality of writing that I expected. I'd call that a fair trade, and I'd call The Circlet Treasury of Erotic Wonderland a worthy read for anybody curious about the 'adult' potential of Lewis Carroll.
Editor J. Blackmore has assembled an interesting group of stories here, with the first 5 sharing a theme of "a world where dreams are real and always have happy endings," while the last 5 take their lead from the poetic threat of the Jabberwock and "the nightmares it produces."
Lily White by Morwenna Drake makes for a strong opener, putting an erotic spin on the Wonderland chessboard, with some truly inventive spins on familiar characters. A World of Her Own by Alex Picchetti captures the surreal, nonsense feel of the source material perfectly, pitting Alice against Queens both Red and White in a challenge of seduction. Of all the stories, Tarts and Tea by Holly Abair feels the most like an genuine sequel, telling a rather melancholy sort of tale that settles for moments of sensuality rather than true eroticism.
Unfortunately, after such a strong start, the rest of the collection is very uneven, with several stories having only the most tenuous connections to the Wonderland theme. A Wasp, a Wig and a Wanton Woman by Gary Westfahl was just plain odd (but entirely fitting), and If This Be Not Love, It Is Madness by Theresa Sand was a rather sad sort of sequel that lacks closure, but Midway Rides by Alex Picchetti captured the confusion and bewilderment of Alice's experiences perfectly - albeit in a darker, more sexual manner.
It's a shame the collection could close as strongly as it started, but there are some good stories here, well suited for those readers with an open mind regarding imaginative, often anthropomorphic encounters.
ebook, 126 pages
Published May 26th 2016 by Smashwords Edition
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.