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Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & other Horrors

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  222 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Death and pleasure. Freud's Todestrieb, his statement that ''libido has the task of making the destroying instinct innocuous, and it fulfils the task by diverting that instinct to a great extent outwards....The instinct is then called the destructive instinct, the instinct for mastery, or the will to power.'' Few authors have spun stories of Thanatos and Eros as skillfully ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published 2011 by Lethe Press
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  222 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Tyler J Gray
10 Stories, really enjoyed it over-all. Most being between 3.5-4 stars. Average 3.68
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Spells, Space & Screams
Take Your Daughter to Work ★★★★★
Sex as something pleasurable, soft and warm, is a mammalian concept. In the cold salty dark of fathoms, it’s not even survivable. This short story built in scales and slithers to a chilling reimagining of Lovecraftian horror.

At the Edge of Ellensberg ★★★★½
“The fire came from me, from my mouth and from all the desire I’d ever had for him, all the unrequited love. It rippled over his flesh, dug into the crevices of skin and burned away the lies, curling back his s
Nick Cato
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This 10-story collection by relative newcomer Livia Llewellyn features dark stories in several genres (and mixed genres). After a short & sweet introduction from author Laird Barron, ENGINES kicks into high gear with the apocalyptic HORSES, which tells the tale of Angela Kingston, a missile facilites technician dealing with an international nuclear exchange. This one goes from bleak to bleaker and (literally) leaves you in the void (if you don't like your fiction extra dark, now would be a good ...more
Bryan Alexander
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic
Livia Llewellyn's Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors is a superb first collection. It's a dark delight to read, and introduces a major voice in horror fiction.

Engines offers a very diverse set of tales and voice. Llewellyn offers stories of post-apocalypse survival, futuristic space war, sexual longing, alien gods, hybrid machine/flesh monster machines, parallel worlds, mass murderers, mining, and trees that devour girls. No story is formally alike, either. "Engine of Desire", for
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
4 stars--I really liked it.

I didn't love all the stories in this collection, but there were five that really stood out. Llewellyn writes dark stories. She also writes erotica, which is present in this collection--though combined with horror and violence.

The five stories I most enjoyed:

Horses: A post-apocalyptic horror that spooked me a bit.
At the Edge of Ellensburg: Violence and sex combine into a horrible nightmare.
Take Your Daughters to Work: Lovecraftian horror.
Omphalos: I've read this in two
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Traumatic and dramatic trials from the past run deep. Overcoming them often means facing something even more difficult. Livia Llewellyn’s sophisticated and adept writing hits like a whirlwind. This dark and provocative collection is my second from the author and to put it simply, I am hooked. 4.5 stars.
Ned Lud
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been writing since...well, since I could hold a pen. I always that I was a decent writer. That is until I discovered Livia Llewellyn and realized I have a long fucking way to go!
Orrin Grey
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it
This is one of those places where, for me, numerical rating scales for subjective experiences really break down. How do you rate a really great book that just wasn't for you? I dunno.

Here's the thing, Engines of Desire is pretty great, as you can tell by all the great reviews its getting, including this one over at Innsmouth Free Press, from Jesse Bullington. But it's also harsh and brutal and unremittingly bleak, which isn't exactly my thing, generally. My friend J.T. Glover described the openi
Nicholas Kaufmann
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These ten dark phantasmagorias, ranging from short-shorts to epic novellas, form a stunning debut by an author every reader of horror and dark fantasy should become familiar with. Llewellyn seasons her stories with hidden gods, strange creatures, an indifferent universe, and dangerously obsessed characters, making her work akin to that of Lovecraft, only with much deeper characterization and emotion. Many of the stories feature a dark sexuality to them as well. Highly recommended, but not for th ...more
Seregil of Rhiminee
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Livia Llewellyn's Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors is a unique and unforgettable collection of dark fantasy and horror stories, which will linger in the reader's mind long after reading them. The stories in this collection are both disturbing and thought-provoking and they demand quite a lot of attention from the reader for they aren't easy and light stories.

As a big fan of quality horror and dark fantasy, I must confess that I fell in love with this collection. I read these stor
Michael Adams
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A potent blend of sophisticated dark erotica, weird fiction, SF/F, and horror in equal doses. Excellent.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These stories are best read slowly and savored. Often they are surreal to a level worthy of Lautréamont and Cisco. There's a lot of grim dystopian stories; tales of totalitarian or dysfunctional futures and toxic wastelands. Many of these stories are about girls who have been knocked around by the world and have special powers and connections with the natural world.

The sexual element is stronger in this collection than in "Furnace." Both collections are excellent, but I think I slightly prefer t
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant short story collection that’s full of sex, violence and Lovecraftian nightmares. Most stories have an emotional impact that’ll imprint it in your memory and leave you with something to dwell on. I’d recommend this to those who like their fiction very dark and intense.
Damien Angelica Walters
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dark, disturbing, and brilliant. If you like your short fiction to hurt, to take your breath away, to leave you hollow and shaking, read this collection. You won't be disappointed. ...more
Adam Cesare
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection. Boundary-pushing in both content and prose.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Engines of Desire is comprised of ten stories, including two novellas and two novelettes. It’s stunning enough even without the knowledge that it is Livia Llewellyn’s debut book. Llewellyn, whose catalog of published work stretches back to 2005, has clearly demonstrated more dedication and patience than many of her peers, this reviewer included, and it shows through in every page of Engines.

Several pieces stand out from the pack. The collection leads off with ‘Horses,’ one of the novelettes, whi
M Griffin
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If not for a recommendation on Laird Barron's blog, I might never have picked up this excellent collection (to which Barron provided a foreword). Prior to the release of this collection, all I'd seen from Livia Llewellyn was "Brimstone Orange," too short a piece to give much of a sense of this writer's capabilities. I'm very glad I didn't miss what turned out to be one of the best single author short story collections I've come across in recent years.

Llewellyn's prose style is strongly visual a
Paige Ellen Stone
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was very impressed with the reviews of Ms Llewellyn's second collection of short works, "Furnace", and wanted to read it. But as is my wont, I ordered both books and began with this, the first. No doubt, with blurbs from the likes of Laird Barron, this is weird fiction. Ms Llewellyn moves from very short pieces, to what could almost be considered novellas. Her influences are clear, Lovecraft, Barron, Kiernan, Fort, Chambers, Poe and others. She writes beautifully, even when describing the most ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a set of dark, horrific tales that traverse the entire length from insensitive cruelty to hard-edged lust. I couldn't stop reading it because it was a train accident, the type you slow down with morbid fascination in hopes of seeing a body twisted and managed. In this case, the accidents are the crippled emotions, callous evil, and unthinking cruelty. And I loved it.

This is not a story for Fluffy. It has rape in it. It has blood. And beatings and anguish. And they tie beautifully togeth
I bought this collection because I had read a story in an anthology that I liked, but I think the stories probably benefit from some time between reading one and the next; the Lovecraftian influence and transgressive sexual elements are effective in small doses, but I have a tendency to say I'm just going to read one story and then devour them all in a great gulping rush, and the cumulative sense was one of oversatiation on vaguely icky sex and tentacled sea monsters. I still find her to be a ta ...more
A.C. Wise
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and brutal and wrenching and poetic and... I could go on. These are the kind of stories that leave you simultaneously hollowed out, and filled with ghosts. They linger and haunt, both for their incredible use of language, and their painful subject matter. This isn't a collection that will appeal to everyone, but for those who can stomach the dark, this is well worth the read. ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was fucking disgusting, revolting, unsettling. I say that with the highest reverence for what Livia Llewellyn has achieved here, which is thoroughly gross. An exploration of the darker side of desire, love, sex and the female psyche. If you like un likeable women protags you will have them in droves. Dark, weird fiction that is unflinching and doesn't care about your sensibilities. ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: collections
Giving up on any sort of accurate chronological record of what I've been reading in 2020 - because hey, what the hell, I'll loop back around to the rest sooner or later - I found this ebook again when I was poking through my files restlessly looking for something that held my attention. I can't remember when I purchased it, I can't remember why I purchased it or where I undoubtedly found the rec, but I'll give a novelty a shot if I've passed over 30 familiar things first and am lying on my mattr ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
2.5, rounded up.

This book is filled with stories of sex and violence. Sometimes both at once. It's very unflinching in the way it discusses these things. And sometimes, that can be a good thing. Here, it just doesn't work for me.

I like to read "dark" books, or "weird" books, or whatever you'd like to call books like this. I like them a lot. But this book, much like American Psycho just feels like it tries too hard and has nothing to say. There's a lot of sex (consensual, rape, incest) and v
Ian Casey
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Livia Llewellyn's first collection of stories, Engines of Desire, features works originally published from 2005 to 2011. Within the confines of the horror short, they're a diverse bunch. They range in length from novella to flash fiction. Some are erotic and, in one case, outright pornographic. Some are explicitly weird or supernatural though others merely allow for the possibility while functioning without that element.

There's a bit of Lovecraft in it, a fair bit of Barker, some King and a hint
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
well then... the introduction by Laird Barron seems like a massively overhyped piece, and then when you get to read the stories you realize he is dead fucking right... these tales are visceral and sensual and dark and tainted and erotic and just off, somehow, but lovely all the same... a couple were a bit long in the telling, but the best of them made up for this minor shortcoming... whew, reading this grabs you, squeezes, slides up and down and in and out, lets go for a second, then comes back ...more
Mar 13, 2021 is currently reading it
Take Your Daughters to Work

“This is the way of the world, His way, her father has explained.”

A promise to see the ocean Sadie has set her heart upon, with family heirloom a thousand years old laying across her throat she is all set to follow in footsteps of a thousand joyous girls.
Daughters with whole new purpose, “the way of the world,” past the factories near the edge of dry land furious vast oceans await.
One should take fathers to work instead.
A cosmic compelling Lovecraftian short lasting ta
Alexandra Danielle
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
The storyline and characters are unique, exquisitely crafted, engrossing, and deliciously haunting. Yet, while exceptional, the writing isn't often palatable-this has nothing to do with the dark subject matters (murder, rape, incest, religious zealots, dystopian futures, etc) and everything to do with the delivery. The writing is layered and complex in many areas, the world-building so unique, it becomes distant and unapproachable at times. ...more
Sponge Finger
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Horses ★★★★
At the Edge of Ellensburg ★★★★★
The Teslated Salishan Evergreen ★★★
The Engine of Desire ★★★★★
Jetsam ★★★★★
The Four Hundred Thousand ★★★★
Brimstone Orange ★★★
Take Your Daughters to Work ★★★★
Omphalos ★★★★★
Her Deepness ★★★★★
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
A collection of short stories full of Lovecraftian horror and a good dose of erotica. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: bleak.

The first story, Horses, is probably my least favorite. In retrospect, I think that is only because I had never read Llewellyn's work before (and only recently have started reading horror fiction in general), and wasn't prepared for what I was getting into. But the further I read, the more I got into her writing style.

There's a lot of interesting p
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I was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and spent my childhood in Tacoma, Washington. And now I live on the East Coast. I’m not quite sure how that happened….

By day I’m a secretary. I file papers, create spreadsheets, update calendars, sort papers — the usual secretarial things.

At night, I write about lonely young girls who can speak to engines, Nikola Tesla’s secret journals, long-horned demons lost in

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