"Who knows? Perhaps only such a brutal tribe of men could have produced a woman with such an infinite longing to be a victim."
I think perhaps my discussion of this rather NSFW tale should begin with my herculean efforts to secure a copy. It is currently out of print as far as I can tell. I am a massive fan of reading all the books on a must read list. As such, I'm working my way through quite a number of The Guardian's Top 10 Series. Finally securing and reading this book means I've read everything on Rowan Somervilles' Top 10 of good sex in fiction.
When I finally got a copy, I was mortified to think how often I'd searched for the title on my work computer - it is definitely not suitable reading for the workplace, unless you perhaps work in a dungeon or similar. The bad air-conditioning in my office does not make it a dungeon, just in case you were wondering.
The novel begins with the discovery of a strange book that details the story of one Carmenicita de Las Lunas, who began life as Gertrude Gault, daughter of "the human wolf known to all Glasgow as the Razor King". Daddy is not to be trifled with and his strange behaviour in front of his young daughter is the first indication that things might just get weird. Spoiler he has sex in front of his daughter, then gets her to hold his lover down while he brands her with a knife - the mark of the Razor King.
Gertrude is a virgin obsessed with sex, until she discovers that pain might be her thing and boy does she take that to an extreme. She is inducted into a secret society that operates much in the same way as the Church (with Cardinals and such things) and is built around pain. How to critique the story?? Hmm... way too many descriptions of creepy, old, naked men, a fair wallop of violence and weirdness. I'll say one thing, at least it is well written - no horrific savaging of the English language like that shady book that has had way too much press of late (not mentioning any names).
3 out of 5, this one's so grimy I feel like I need a shower.