Most helpful positive review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Taut, edgy, compelling
on 28 October 2012
I think it's safe to say that I have never read anything quite like this devastating novel before. This is Dark, Darker and Darkest - the non-con novel to rule them all. It's not in the least bit erotic - it's brutal and cruel and yet also taut and compelling. I felt like I was reading an existentialist Albert Camus novel - a deep exploration of the psychological anatomy of a rape.
This is purely a two-hander - only the rapist and his victim appear in this story. They have no physical descriptions, we don't know their ages and they are not named, they are just him and her, he and she - we get to know them through what they say, what they feel and their actions throughout the novel.
She is being raped to order and wakes to find him already deep inside her right at the beginning but her rapist is ordered to deal out more than just physical and sexual torture - he is ordered to and personally desires to destroy her psychologically but she is made of much sterner stuff than he could possibly ever have anticipated. During her first rape he tells her it will only be over when she comes and she shocks him by finding temporary respite deep within her mind and detaching herself emotionally from the situation and is able to orgasm. He considers her a worthy opponent and readies himself for the fight ahead.
From this moment, a battle royale commences. He has never met anyone quite like her before and they are locked in mortal combat to the bitter and twisted end. She has a staggering strength of mind and even though she recognises her own physical powerlessness, she clings on to hope that her particular collection of personality traits are the perfect set to deal with someone like him and the situation she is now in. They engage in intellectual fencing, a mockery of romance as she remains helpless but yet unbroken. She clings onto the belief that she can out think and out emote him.
Her gregarious rapist is smug and self-assured and completely convinced that he is ingenious and creative enough to break through the protective, intellectual padding of her tormented mind, to force the buried feelings right to the surface, to get her to the point where the physical pain he is inflicting will extend into her mind, to push her to that final moment of destruction. He considers himself a rape artist and is convinced he will he get her to the point when her crushed hope will finally push her into despair to become just a dead soul in a co-operative body where there is no beginning and no end, just an eternal painful presence under his dominion.
There was a moment in the book which chilled me to the bone, put fear in my heart and froze my blood - when he leaned over and whispered in her ear `Checkmate'! I swear all I could hear at that moment was the frantic pounding of my own heart as the tears poured down my face.
This is an astonishingly good novel. B.G. Harlen - I don't even know if they're a man or a woman but I bow down at their feet. Their stunning way with words, the cruel way with which they screwed with my brain - I feel emotionally wrung out, totally devastated after finishing this story. I know I've read something really quite extraordinary. I cried as I read this, I recoiled at the imagery but I could not put it down. I'm not sure I'll ever get over it.