Goth Sex-Kitten and Other Stories is an interesting collection of various short stories from author Dave Freer. Published by Naked Reader, it’s a mishmash of varying genres of fiction while maintaining a somewhat whimsical feel throughout the entire collection. Coming in at only 33 pages (of which, about 8 are blank), it’s a brief read. And that is a shame, given how interesting some of the stories within are.
The anthology (loosely termed here) starts off with the title story, Goth Sex-Kitten. A magician’s apprentice (from what I gather), while hiding from his master’s temper tantrum, accidentally stumbles upon a portal which transports him do a strange dimension – a goth club. Confused, chaos and hilarity take hold as he struggles to figure out what is going on.
The next story is a one page story titled Rob. It was short, confusing and (quite frankly) not very good. With some of the other stories, you get a sense of background, of setting and place. With Rob, I just felt someone trying to paint a scene using no layers or tones. Maybe this is a bad analogy, I’m not certain. Perhaps if it had been fleshed out a bit more, this one wouldn’t have bugged me. It is the weakest story of the novella as well. Thankfully, they get better, since…
…Jack is the next story and is very, very good. Of course, I’m a bit demented, so the idea of a child playing with a bunch of soldier’s minds while in the midst of a siege sends me into mad giggles. Poor Hrolf, suffering from the memory of his lost wife and daughter, is targeted first by the strange girl, only he rebuffs her and sends her on her way. Undaunted, she moves to another man and causes him to disappear. Hrolf is suspected of murder, but eventually the entire truth comes out as more and more men disappear and the mysterious Jack reveals much. This is a story that, if the author wished, could be expanded upon. I wish he would, actually, it’s that good.
Left Behind is a story that reminds me much of the Heroes in Hell series. Ryan, a lawyer in life, is given a chance to end up in Purgatory, if only he’d help his grandmother cheat on an exam while in Hell. The Devil is the one who offered, and the story, compelling and dark, is a nice contrast to some of the lighter and more amusing tales in this short anthology. The Devil gets his due, though not in the way he expected, and Ryan makes the ultimate choice.
If I Wake Before I Die is a confusing little piece, though a beautifully written one. It tells the story of two sisters, one of whom is mentally trapped in the past while mourning the loss of love. It’s a bit confusing because I get the impression that something darker is at play here, only it never seems to come to fruition. Too bad, really, because this is a wonderfully dark and tragic piece.
Regency Sprite is the last story of the short novella, and a clever little mystery wrapped in 19th century London. A fey is caught while following her traitorous lover into the human realm by cold iron bars, and breaks her arm accidentally. A besotted drunkard and cuckolded count, Arthur Redmund, stumbles upon her and reluctantly agrees to help. He takes her back to his home and, as the tale switches viewpoints between the two, dark secrets about Arthur’s past comes to life as he tries to help the poor fey girl.
This novella is really too short for my usual tastes, though Freer’s writing drew me in well enough. I just really wished there had been more to it, more meat and ‘taters with this. However, the price ($2.99) for the collection seems to be about right. I’m not sure I would buy this outright, though maybe if it were a larger part of a bundle I would. Great stories (mostly), but this was just too short for me. Perhaps there will be more stories with some of these characters at a later date?
—reviewed by Jason