Book Review: Kushiel’s Dart

200px-Kushiel's_DartThe last erotic novel I read was 50 Shades (and I barely made it out alive; worst book ever).  I’ve also read Anne Rice’s Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series, which is pretty intense for those of you looking for a true BDSM book.  I started looking for another series to read and came across Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart.  It got great reviews; people praised it for being erotic book with a good story line with enough BDSM to get turned on but not scared, etc.  So I gave it a shot.  I read the first book, Kushiel’s Dart and the second book, Kushiel’s Chosen (check out all the books in the series).  To be honest, I got kind of bored by the end of the second book and didn’t continue the series (the story got repetitive, predictable and uninteresting).  But the first book offered a fresh perspective, lots of interest and I do recommend reading it!

Carey’s true stroke of genius is the way in which she created the world that her characters reside in: it is a fanatical universe that parallels the life & message of Christ.  The characters’ “one true god” (who they name Elua) is exiled, but with the aid of angels and his disciples (and a blood sacrifice), he is granted access to the “holy grail” of all the lands, where Elua and his disciples set up camp for future generations to enjoy.  In the second book, there are even Jewish/Amish-styled characters that are “rats of society” and live on the outskirts of the city, secluded from the rest of the world, but are surprisingly a very successful group of people despite the fact.  They are also a group of people who deny Elua as the one, true God and are waiting for the real Messiah to appear.

Citizens who follow “the one true God, Elua” and are lucky enough to be “chosen” by him, are servants of Namaah (a disciple of Elua).  And how do these servants serve their God?  By joining one of the 13 great households of the nation, each specializing in certain aspects of sexuality, and learning the ways of seduction:

  • A house for demoralizing pain
  • A house for intellectual curiosity and guile
  • A house for filthy promiscuity
  • A house for pure virginity
  • A house for pale, perfect, perky blondes, etc.

It is said that to serve in one of the great households is the greatest honor one can receive.  To partake, give and receive pleasure and love is the ultimate display of reverence toward Elua, whose message to his disciples was just that, “Love is everything; give and receive it freely.”  When one begins serving Elua, they begin a tattoo on their back and each time they have a customer, a portion of that money goes toward completion of the tattoo.  Once it is done, you are free.  Some people who have read the book take this idea pretty seriously:

This is a copy of the tattoo that Phedre has on her back... uhh...

This is a copy of the tattoo that Phedre has on her back… uhh…

The heroine of the story, Phedre, is taken in at a young age and raised in a household that prepares children to ascend to one of the great households once they become “of age.”  She is eventually accepted by a household that academically educates her for years before she is even allowed her first “customer” (this is apparently done because her household likes to create smart AND sexy spies!)  The story takes off from there.  Murder.  Revenge.  Exile.  Adventure.  Etc.  To make matters more complicated, Phedre is marked by “kushiel’s dart:” a red speck in her eye that indicates she enjoys pain for pleasure.  This stigma follows her throughout the book and is where the BDSM style comes into play.

Like I said, it’s interesting and different so I do recommend it.  My one criticism is, however, that there weren’t a lot of sex scenes and the sex that was in the book was boring and short.  That was disappointing.  It’s an erotic novel, people!  I want the juicy details!  Alas, that means I am still looking for my perfect erotic novel, one that combines the details of Sleeping Beauty with the interest/creativity of Kushiel.  Anyone have suggestions?




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