Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shipwrecked on the Island of the She-Gods by Lacey Noonan

Wow. Lacey Noonan's cover blurb promises that this is "the most wild Transsex adventure of heart-pounding exotica you will ever read," but even I didn't expect it to be so dark, so intense, and so exceptionally well-written. Shipwrecked on the Island of the She-Gods: A South Pacific Trans Sex Adventure is, quite simply, one of the most well-rounded pieces of transgender fiction I've read in a very long time, complete with erotic highs and brutal lows.

For starters, the opening scenes in which Noah, Julian and Owen fight the sea with their last ounce of strength, desperate to reach the island on the horizon, is about as exciting as it gets. It's epic, it's breathtaking, and it's intense. Once ashore, it doesn't take long for the natives to reveal themselves - or to reveal their very well-hung, deliciously virile secrets. Here's where it starts to get dark. Noonan takes a very realistic approach to the situation and explores what amounts to a brutal rape of Noah. You keep waiting for him to succumb mentally, to find enjoyment in the act, but she doesn't let us off the hook so easily. Noah ends up broken - physically, emotionally, and psychologically - and ends up fleeing into the jungle.

By this point, Julian and Owen are terrified by the fate that seems to await them, and have no choice but to allow themselves to be bound and dragged back to the native's camp. Once in the camp, we begin to understand just how many layers there are to the story. It's hard to say much without spoiling the story, but while Julian fights and antagonizes his captors, receiving nothing but harsher and crueler abuses for his efforts, Owen opens up, tries to understand their culture, and offers them the tenderness and understanding he hopes for in return. Through their respective eyes we get to see the best and the worst of the natives. It's not all cruelty and abuse - there's a wild sexual abandon to the natives that's as erotic and enticing as we could dare dream. Eventually, Owen gets to experience that aspect of their culture, and it only serves to drive more of a wedge between to two survivors, especially once we learn what the natives ultimately have in mind for them.

Not to be forgotten, Noah awaits deep in the jungle, wounded and delirious from infection, more interested in revenge than in rescuing his fellow crewmen. We don't see a lot of Noah, but his role becomes increasingly more important as we get to the final chapters, in which Noonan explores the conflicts between tribes, the mythology behind their gloriously equipped appearance, and the fate of men who happen to find themselves on the island. It's a big, bold book, as full of action and adventure as it is torture and abuse, but the happier, more erotic element can't be overlooked. It takes more than half the book for that happier side to be revealed through Owen, but it's such a natural progression of what we've seen to that point, and such a delicious counterpoint to Julian's situation, that you really come to appreciate the way Noonan has structured her tale.

One final note about Shipwrecked on the Island of the She-Gods: A South Pacific Trans Sex Adventure - Noonan has done a marvelous job of having the natives speak their own language, and doesn't fall for the old trick of having the men pick up on it too easily. Instead, for the readers benefit, she offers translations in the footnotes to each chapter . . . if you're so inclined. Whether or not you choose to read the translations will completely change the way you read the story. I will admit, I clicked on a few out of curiosity, but found it far more exciting to wonder and to share the uncertainty of the men. Opting for the translations will likely make for a somewhat happier read, but it really will spoil much of the drama.

Regardless, I loved the story. I was a bit shocked at how dark it was, but also relieved that this wasn't just another fantasy of straight men instantly falling in lust for their shemale captors. Those stories are fun, don't get me wrong, but you need the drama, the tension, and the doubt to carry such a story through a full-length novel.

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