Violetta Vane's Reviews > Hurt

Hurt by Varian Krylov
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Jan 22, 12

bookshelves: mmf-or-other-menage, multicultural-or-interracial
Recommended for: Anyone who likes MMF and isn't put off by dark themes
I own a copy

This book blew my mind, it was that damn good. I'll definitely have to read it a second time; on the first go-round, I read it so quickly my fingers were getting wobbly! Everyone should read this book. Wait, that's probably not right. In fact, there are two main issues that could put off potential readers: the breast cancer and a strain of dubious consent. I'll talk about the breast cancer now and the dubious consent under the cut.

This is not just a book about a three-way relationship (although it is, I think, the best MMF book I have ever read). It's also about the relationship of a woman to her own body, pre- and post-mastectomy, and about her relationship with death. I have a light history of breast cancer in my family, although no one has died of it, and I still found the book very hard to read at certain points. Vanka has to construct a new sexuality for herself that is not defined by her operation but still incorporates it. The descriptions of this process are raw in physical terms and even rawer in emotional terms.

I'll also admit right here in this review: I almost always hate hurt/comfort narratives in romance or erotica. I understand their appeal on a logical basis in terms of exciting extremes of emotion and power play. But I just don't find them sexy. The only thing less sexy to me than caregiving is the idea of someone taking care of me. So the why the hell did I love this book called "Hurt"? Maybe because the sex didn't really rise from comforting, but developed in an antagonistic relationship with it. Vanka handles her diagnosis with a complicated mixture of laudable stoicism and stupid denialism which ends up harming some innocent people in her life. It's a flawed but totally understandable reaction. And her lovers are also flawed and understandable as we gradually come to understand the issues that are messing them up.

Let me count some of the ways that this stands up above the glut of unreadable menage. There's a vibrant atmosphere to this book. The characters have distinctive voices. No, they don't exactly talk like real people, but they talk with a compelling fluidity, so that the long passages of dialogue that occasionally pop up are breathlessly gorgeous. Especially Khalid. I just want him to keep talking and talking. The descriptive language is so sensuous (there's one part where Vanka is just staring at a grapefruit that stunned me with its prose style) that it creates a kind of suspended reality or lucid dream effect upon reading. There's real suspense. I truly did not know what was going to happen next at many points, and parts of the revealed backstories shocked the hell out of me. This is a multicultural/interracial relationship where people's cultural backgrounds are an integral part of their identity. So was their sexuality and gender identity. One of the men has serious issues with internalized homophobia, for example. And the menage relationship was incredibly complicated, more than the sum of its parts… parts which were themselves complicated. Finally, if you get turned on by intellectual history, this book will thrill your pretentious soul like it did mine. I've never read a more charming combination of ass-f*cking and French existentialist name-dropping.

I will now go on to talk about the dubious consent under the cut. But if you're not put off already, I suggest you just buy the damn book and let it be a surprise because you will almost certainly love it. This was 100k words and I would have enjoyed it at twice the length.

(view spoiler)

Lastly, the flaws. This book could have used better editing and formatting. There were multiple instances of dropped quote marks in the first half of the book. Chapters weren't demarcated well and seemed to cut off at almost random points. Several transitions were problematic. Some adjectives (e.g. "umber") and adjective-noun pairs suffered from unnecessary repetition. I think the French language portions lacked accent marks. But really, that's all that stuck out for me.

I loved the book, loved the emotional journey, and I'm already on the lookout for more books by the author.
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Reading Progress

01/21/2012
15.0% "Daaaaaaamn this is good so far. Definitely not for everyone, but it's pushing MY buttons like crazy."
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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~Lei ~  Reading Is An Adventure ~ Good review! I have reread several times and I get something new out of it each time.


Elizabetta Great review. I find myself quite taken with Krylov's writing. She has a very unique style/voice. This the first book I read of her's and is one of my favorites. I can't find any recent work by her and I wonder why... Anyway, love reading your reviews! BTW, I also very much enjoyed reading your LIAW submission (War/World) with Heidi Belleau.


message 3: by Violetta (last edited Jun 21, 2012 07:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Violetta Vane Thank you very much! I appreciate that!

Yes, I really wish she would come back :-( The style is amazing.

I tried reading After, and I just couldn't do it. A lot of her other stuff is very heavy non-con, lots of captivity, and then she has a long incest story (I can't read incest at all). Her older free Literotica stories are here: http://www.literotica.com/stories/mem...


~Lei ~  Reading Is An Adventure ~ After is, after all is said and done, a story about hope and the human spirit. Thanks for the Literotica link.


Elizabetta Thanks for the link Violetta! And the friend invite. It took me a while to finish After -- read it a couple of years ago and don't expect to re-read it anytime soon! It was very dark and the non-con didn't help. Krylov has an interesting way of writing about redemption. Anyway...I agree with Lei that ultimately the book was about hope against all odds.


Violetta Vane You're welcome! And I may go back After and try to struggle through.


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