Flowers of HellBy Morgan Drake (Olympia Press; 2005)

An attempt at extreme erotica in which the erotic business is far outweighed by the extremity. The writing is stronger than that of most Olympia Press publications, but the flimsy, overly episodic narrative and perfunctory characterizations are unfortunately very much in keeping with the slapdash Olympia model.

The setting, as the title portends, is Hell, where a young woman named Sharon is tortured in nearly every way imaginable, yet always finds herself unaccountably turned on by her torments. The Hell described in this novel is some sort of alternate universe presided over by a buttoned-down pervert named Jerry, who has all manner of very specific rules and properties that don’t appear to have been fully thought out on the part of the author–but then again, narrative clarity really isn’t the point of this novel.

In the course of this tale the heroine is whipped, raped, impaled, crushed by a large rock, pulled behind a moving car by a rope attached to a nose-ring, forced to cannibalize her own breasts (most of the torment seems to center on her tits), skinned alive, etc. This being hell, Sharon always dies–but not before undergoing a succession of colossal orgasms–only to be constantly resurrected for fresh bouts of torture. Inevitably she comes to get off on all the suffering and takes to tormenting herself by splattering hot grease on her breasts, which is strictly off limits in this Hell, and leads to further punishment.

The novel loses its footing in the concluding chapters, wherein the heroine somehow winds up back on the mortal plain. She’s desperate to continue the torture she so joyously underwent in Hell, and enlists a depraved homeless guy to do the job. This development would seem to promise all sorts of provocative perviness, but Jerry turns back up and the narrative falls apart completely, with a conclusion that’s frustratingly inconclusive.

FLOWERS OF HELL is ultimately closer to splatterpunk than erotica, and more in line with the work of splatmeisters like Wrath James White and Ed Lee than THE STORY OF O. It is, in short, the very definition of torture porn.