This book is a fairy story for the modern age.
This may sound like a cliche, but when I make this comment, I refer to fairy stories the way they used to be... a far cry from the Disney fairy stories where the virginal beauty marries the dashing prince and all is happy ever after. This is a darker story, rooted in misery and unhappiness, yet above this, Sutherland depicts a transcendence for his narrator.
Our narrator recounts a tragic life story from his death bed, where he is slowly turning to gold. A suggestion is made early in the book that this transformation may simply be the narrator's spin on the ravages of hepatic jaundice. Indeed, our Venus is a prime candidate for Hepatitis infection... He tells us of his ability to show people heaven through sexual contact, and we see him becoming a martyr to this cause, having a multitude of such encounters and thus endangering his own life.
Throughout, the reader is forced to question why a boy with such amazing powers is forced to live as a victim. Through offering his body, he hopes to recapture the heaven felt upon his first encounter. Perhaps his transformation is a reward for his sacrifice, offering him escape from his own misery.
Venus is a god for love; as such, the portrayal of this martyrdom calls to point the difficult lack of comment on sex and sexuality in Western religious and moral writings.
For a very short novel, very many such questions are thrown out. Readers may feel frustrated at the scarcity and simplicity of the answers that Sutherland offers, and yet more so at the simplicity of his portrayal of the love affairs within the story.
Yet its base, this novel remains just that: a story, not a discussion. It should be enjoyed as such: A fairy story depicting the incredible ugliness of human sin, misery, and futility, yet also the incredible and beautiful power of love.