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.
Oysters and Pearls have some real bite to them. It's a subtle bite, one that nibbles away at your senses, before drawing blood in a final twist, and I'm pleased to say familiarity doesn't dull the oyster's edge at all.
The Blood Moon Kiss was a fictional take on the vampire soap opera, full of atmosphere and some real drama, despite guessing early on where the story was headed.
It's All Right, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) was the first story that shocked me with its ending, a sadly humorous tale of an aging marriage, with a quiet twist dropped in at the end.
Leaving on Kyoto Time was one of those stories that opens with the promise of cross-cultural romance, but which gradually sours, until the sadness resolves itself in another quiet final bite.
Mrs. Atropos was one of my favorite stories in the collection, perhaps because I clued into the mythological connection so early on. There's a lot of subtle hints and clues here as to how it will all end, with some amusing and arousing reminiscing along the way.
Moonburn was perhaps the most erotically charged story in the collection, a nocturnal tale with an exhibitionist goth fetish, while My Zombie, My Lover and Hell is Where the Heart is were even darker tales with sensual surprises, yet none of them went quite where I expected them to, which I loved.
Escape was another favorite for me, a story that worked as well as a slice of erotica as a sword-and-sorcery story, with a definite sense of drama and suspense to the titular escape.
The Dracula Club and My Lover were a pair of fantastically dark, dangerous tales, one that plays with a supernatural tease, and another that embraces the paranormal wholeheartedly - intensely erotic and full of atmosphere.
I already knew that Mitzi Szereto was a talented editor, having put together collections like Red Velvet and Absinthe & Thrones of Desire, but this was my first opportunity to read her work in an isolated setting. She is a remarkably varied author, with stories that cross genres and geographies, but what stands out most is her unique way with words. These stories are that are as well polished as a pearl, romantic and sensual, flowing so easily across the page that it's all-too-easy to be surprised time and time again by that bite I mentioned earlier.
Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Midnight Rain Publishing