Review: Squirm by Cari Silverwood

Title: Squirm
Author: Cari Silverwood
Self published e-book
Pages: 61

After some fascinating Facebook discussions with my erotic writers group about the bizarro world of self published monster porn, the ever cheeky Cari Silverwood messaged me with an offer I wanted to refuse but couldn't.

'How'd you like to read and review my new monster porn parody, Squirm?'

'Monster porn makes my eyes bleed, Cari, but if you're the writer then I'm willing to give it a bash.'

Shortly afterwards 13,000 words arrived in my inbox. I eyed it nervously. I'd done some research into 'monster porn' earlier this year and what I'd discovered made my buttocks clench (and that's saying something coming from me, I tell you). The reviews were enough for me to decide I didn't need to harm my brain cells by actually reading it, but Cari is a writer I trust to deliver a polished story and her skills with erotica are enviable to say the least. So I decided if I was ever going to read monster porn, Squirm was the best (and possibly only) place to start.

Let's set the scene with the blurb from Cari's website:

A parody of everything great and weird in erotic romance that could be stuffed into one book without it exploding.

For some girls, one tentacle isn't enough.

Having a bad day isn't good but when Virginia Chaste has a bad day, she gets felt up by a tentacle monster. If it simply has to happen, let it at least be a billionaire and a hot biker.
Virginity isn't all it's cracked up to be and her search for the Holy Grail of Erotic Romance, the ten inch purple-headed schlong, may have finally borne fruit.
Yeehaw! Playing hide the tentacle has never been so much fun.

Let me say from the outset, if there is such a thing as quality monster porn, Squirm is it.

Far from being horrified, I was fascinated. And wildly entertained. The great thing about Squirm is Cari's clever satirical references to the well worn tropes of sci-fi, romance, erotica and especially the 21st century phenomena, 50 Shades of Grey. She takes all the tired phrasing and eye rolling moments that goes with them and weaves them together to create characters and scenarios that will make you laugh out loud.

Dangerous Bob - Karl the tentacled anti-hero's sidekick - is a bastardised version of Chewbacca, complete with a growly vocabulary that sounds like a string of profanities. Karl is a biker-billionaire man/sea-monster with a Christian Grey personality who tosses women down a portal once he's finished 'interfering' with them in his castle by the sea. Karl wants to 'own' Virginia, to become 'one' with her, to 'possess' her completely, to claim everything of hers as his own - except for her periods and mortgage. And Virginia is cursed with that same nasty habit as Anastasia Steele, biting and sucking her lip. She does it so often she hurts herself and makes a mental note to stop - because it hurts.

The humour in Squirm is very Flying High-esque (the movie known in the Northen Hemisphere as Airplane) with the incomparable Leslie Neilson. Virginia makes many self aware references  throughout this short romp, including the bewildering discovery she 'forgot' to put on underwear beneath her revealing dress before going out in search of her friend at the Sea Wolves bikers headquarters. (She gets mixed up and winds up at the Furry Wolves headquarters instead - cute.) For a virgin, Virginia adapts quickly to the less than comfortable circumstances she finds herself in, inlcuidng sexual encounters with things not-human.

Which leads me to the tentacle sex. It seemsl I'm a bone fide tentacle sex pervert by Cari's definition. Virginia's interactions with Karl the biker-billionaire-sea-monster's tentacles were weirdly erotic, which is testimony to Cari's sex writing skills. After Krissy Kneen's octupus sex scene in her book Triptych, Squirm's tentacle sex only reaffirms that we girls are missing out on something big by not entertaining the possibilities of erotic interactions with tentacled creatures.

The interesting thing is, when I first heard of dino-porn I was horrified. Isn't there enough monstering of women in the world without having to add poorly written girl on dinosaur/Big Foot/monster scenarios to the cache of negative sexual stereotyping? Yes, I took it all a bit too seriously, but having read Squirm, I can appreciate the satirical possibilities and embrace the silliness of it all. If executed well, it's just a bit of harmless fun. But there's something else too.

I sincerely think that erotic monster porn is probably a genre only female writers can get away with. I keep wondering, what would the reaction to the T-Rex and Big Foot stories be if a man wrote them? I strongly suspect a man might have attracted a far more negative response for putting work like that, even as a parody, in the public arena. My question is, would that be because women's writing is taken less seriously, so they can get away with publishing these ridiculous stories because nobody really cares what women write about their own sexuality? Or is it because the implications of a man writing girl on monster action are not worth the risk of the inevitable back lash (feminist or not)?

I'll leave that with you to ponder.

If you love a 1950's B Grade sci-fi horror porn movie, complete with unbelievable dialogue, characters and storyline, then grab a box of popcorn and download Squirm. I guarantee you will be smiling all the way through it.

With thanks to the auther for providing an ARC copy.

Find out more about Cari Silverwood at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

You can pick up a copy of Squirm from most e-retailers Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes&Noble

Read as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 #AWW2014

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