Wow wow wow wow wow! Friday night, anxious for something different, I stumbled upon Sleight of Hand by Katrina Strauss. I’d read one book of Katrina’s a while ago–Sanctified. It was dark, moody, gritty, sexy–and best of all–different.
So now I’m going public as an official fan of Katrina’s with Sleight of Hand. Of course, the Anne Cain cover appealed to me, as did the description (steam age, m/m) as I was looking for something different.
Like Sanctified, the tone of this short story (was it really a short story? How did she get it to resonate so?) is dark and sensuous. Unlike that book, this story reads something like a dream, or a very sexy episode penned decades ago by one of the scifi masters. But it’s not scifi, and it’s not really fantasy. It’s a genre of magic storytelling, defying you to pin it down with a label.
Edwin is our young angsty hero, a brooding depressive (or more accurately, sexually repressed dude) trapped in an impossible era, destined to live in sorrow with his widowed mother and his sister. Enter the exquisitely crafted Satori–a magician who seems to travel the world to mystify and in Edwin’s case, heal. The combination of Satori’s attractiveness, his magnetism, and a hint of darkness pull you in along with Edwin. Edwin is hypnotised by Satori’s illusions, by his nightmares, by the disorientation he encounters during his train journey.
When the two get together, Edwin is schooled in the fine art of receiving physical pleasure, and of accepting his sexuality. But even though this is a very sexy read, it would have been compelling without the sexual element.
Who is Satori and should we fear for Edwin’s sanity, his heart, or his life? At $2.50, trust me, it’s worth finding out!
Brava, Ms. Strauss!!! I hate when folks talk about autobuy lists, but honestly, I think I now have one person on mine. I’m currently writing a book set in the same era, and while a completely different kind of tale, I can only hope to come close to the wonderful feel of this book.