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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
I found "Bitten" almost completely compelling. Like, "reading it raptly until two in the morning" compelling. I'm not even a fan of supernatural erotica... and yet, despite the fact that the erotic buttons this book is pushing are totally not my buttons, it still got me to feel what the writers found erotic about this kind of fantasy -- and what the characters in the stories found erotic about this kind of sex.

Good porn -- like the porn in "Bitten" -- gets you feeling what the characters are feeling. Even if what they're feeling, and doing, is physically impossible. And Susie Bright has a unique eye for good porn... an eye that was wide open with the stories in "Bitten." They are unique. They are exceptionally well written. And to call them "vivid" is a grotesque understatement. Lore Sjoberg once wrote that iced mocha "makes me happy to be alive, in the literal sense that it forcibly alters my brain chemistry." These stories forcibly altered my brain chemistry. It was like being violated, in the best possible way. It was like a masochistic fantasy in which a pitiless, unnervingly perceptive top forces me against my will, not just to do shameful and terrible things, but to want them.

If you like dark, spooky erotic fiction, you need to run to your nearest bookseller and buy this book right now. And if you don't much care for dark, spooky erotic fiction but you're curious to see what the fuss is about, I can't recommend a better place to start.

(Excerpted from a review written on the Blowfish Blog)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
This book is gorgeous. If you were browsing in a bookstore instead of online, you wouldn't be able to leave it behind. The silver-black edges and textured snake cover beg to be stroked, flicked, and taken, and the words inside live up to the promise of the beautiful exterior: gothic, mystical, sexy, exotic, and taboo. "Bitten" belongs at the bedside of everyone who reads--or wants to read, or wants their lover to read to them--dark, erotic fiction.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I will spare you yet another tendentious discussion of the difference between erotica and pornography, except to say when you read "Bitten" you'll understand the difference between good and exciting writing about sex and sexuality and tedious, repititious, monotonous porno descriptions of oral sex and the old in and out. Susie Bright, the editor of this lively and imaginative collection asked of her potential contributors that they send her "Perverse fairy tales,Erotic spirits, Sexually compulsive haunts,The baroque savage,Bohemian, post-punk, Dark Wave, an obsession, sacred taboos, a mystical view of the sexual body, Elizabethan, Victorian, Cajun, Latin, African, and Catholic tastes. "Give me," she asks "lugubrious passion, unrelieved thirsts, the lushness of black, the velvet hammer, Noir effects, 'A marked preference for dark colors and sentiments'Sexy-spooky, ethereal carnality, Daily horror as subversive social critique, The erotic arc of the unconscious, The bawdy kitsch and cocky comedy of horror." [I've altered the punctuation and line breaks here, because the solicitation in the introduction is presented as the poem that it is]. By and large, she gets a good deal of what she asks for. The very first story, "The Devil's Invisible Scissors"sets the tone. Gina is a professional 'demon' who snips the souls from her potential lovers as she seduces them. The second tale,"Resurrection Rose," offers us an erotic description of a coupling between a woman and a plant: "The rose's branches rustle furiously as the roots stretch to meet her, one giant crimson thorn extended. Vines creep across Lucy's skin; coarse leaves tease her belly and nipples as her robe drops away. The glossy blade of the thorn is as long as a hunting knife-- black at the hilt, shifting to purple, then crimson, then pink, and finally a pale, pearlescent green. Lucy closes her eyes. The thorn plunges into the top of her breast. She moans as the shaft sinks deeper, little by little." That should be enough to give you a hint of the fresh, creative erotica you'll find in this unusual book. Not all the stories are quite as successful as the first two, but they all take us to places we've rarely, if ever, travelled. You'll want to come along for the ride.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
It's rare for the stars to align for one to first read a foundational work of erotic horror, with one of the latest. The former, M.G. Lewis' THE MONK, earns its still-scandalous reputation. The latter, BITTEN: DARK EROTIC STORIES, edited by Susie Bright, should earn its own reputation -- for pleasure.

In this age of fewer restrictions on publishing erotica, it takes more to move and shock, but the same Gothic conventions hold. God and the Devil are sensual beings, with pressing wagers on our carnality. Innocence and ignorance are hazardous to one's health. If a story featuring demonic soul-eating and angelic sex could be called wistful, then Sera Gamble's The Devil's Invisible Scissors qualifies. It's a great story for the beginning of an anthology; it orients us that there will be passion, wisecracks, a simultaneous touching upon the profane and infinite, and much lubricity. Cross-Town Incubus by E.R. Stewart has the same mix of modern mores and old school thrills.

Some stories, such as Anne Tourney's The Resurrection Rose, make themselves felt immediately: It's a lush tale of floral decadence on the order of Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter. Jess Wells' The Rookery, Patrice Suncircle's Master Sarah and Tsaurah Litzky's The Witch of Jerome Avenue are also stories that have echoes of tales told through the ages... except for the steam and the sweat they generate.

There are three stories I'll read again, for their beauty: The Resurrection Rose, Greg Boyd's Pandora's Other Box and Lay Me Out Softly by Francesca Lia Block. Their modern-day fairy tale slant is distinctive, adult and memorable, and their language, inventive. There's one story I'll have to ration like the aforementioned chocolate, from Allison Lawless. With Pandora's Other Box, The Unfamiliar goes to that dizzymaking place for me.

Other stories, for me, still need a second pass -- Smoke and Ashes by Shanna Germain kept me guessing about what the 'you' in the story wanted, other than a voyeuristic and possibly vampiric thrill. Twins by Ed Falco also kept me guessing, which isn't a bad thing -- I daresay the protagonist has the same problem. More straightforward stories, in this case Julia Talbot's Historical Inaccuracies and Cate Robertson's Half-Crown Doxy, serve as palate-cleansers.

As for Get Thee Behind Me, Satan? I know Ernie Conrick's outrageousness is supposed to be funny, but for me it's too sad and too real an allegory of a dead marriage that even the wildest sex couldn't save. A regrettably predictable form of damnation occurs before the story's first page; the devil's comparatively late on the scene.

Ms. Bright, as usual, does an expert job in compiling a concise and nuanced collection, beautifully designed and executed. I look forward to another collection of darker erotica -- one that continues BITTEN's trend of tales less connected to rough sex than to roughness of the spirit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Remember when your uncle, a closet Goth, would tell you little white lies about the dark, about being bad, about evil? My dad used to always say to us children that he'd come back from the dead to haunt us if we did this or that. Wonder why we so loved and so hated the dark and being made afraid as children? It felt good. It felt bad. It was both. The stories and warnings touched our souls somehow.

Editor Susie Bright has scored again and given us her annual erotic fiction anthology. This time the theme is an erotic edge mixed with spirits of the dark side and in time for Halloween. She has called out 15 top writers to stir in hot sex and odd tales in a caldron that titillates with foreplay fit for any celebration of All Hallows Eve.

Yes, I read this morning of yet one more Rutgers-Newark University study from the Center of Advanced Imaging of how pain and pleasure mysteriously light up the same spots in the brain. Mystery indeed. Dark Eros is with us in the shadows; might as well invite it to the party. Yes, at Rutgers women continue to stump scientists with hands free orgasms cooked up only in their heads yet washed through their bodies for the MRI machines to record. Bright's ace erotic fiction writers do something like this, brushing together such science, truth, history and nastiness in a day glow brew that lights up the dark for us when you paint it on. The volume is replete with tales that stretch from serial murder to demons with rose gardens and blood kisses; add in a benevolent aunt who's a witch with scary things for us to say in the dark. Sayings that burn your clothes off, of course.

The dark erotic force is definitely with you in this gorgeous little bedside volume that is a piece of hand holding art itself with its sensual binding, black edges and green gloss covers. Bright's collection of authors yields a productive shadowy salute to thoughts we often keep to ourselves. I loved best The Witch of Jerome Avenue and even better, The Devil's Invisible Scissors. Some of the tales were a bit too complicated and long for me. But most readers will buzz through this book and go back for a second helping is my guess. Beats the hell out of TV.

We get a little pain with our pleasure in these stories. That's the theme. Some were surprisingly religious. (The editor is an out and recovering Catholic trying hard unsuccessfully sometimes to be a full-on atheist. Seems to me. I do like her anger.) Pain with pleasure, all part of the nipple clamping fun for sure. The story with the scissors and balloons and strings and the soul's slow dying--loved it. Theology oozes from this short and nasty piece.

Dark Eros is alive and well in Bright's Bitten. And, of course, it's just in time for dress up. Lovers will for sure spank a little harder after reading this Halloween primer. Personally, I can't wait to put on a little biker leather and invite friends over next week to sip dry ice cooled cider around a grinning pumpkin. My fantasy: I redo the guest list, winnow out all the church folk in trade for Susie's authors. We're all in one room , darkly lit; all dressed bad ass if at all. All are whispering novella outlines to each other filled with nasty things. What dark, gothic, naughty bit tweaking fun. Buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2009
First, let me say that Bitten is quite striking from its jewel-like emerald snake cover, inviting the browser to touch while warning that touching could be dangerous, to the completely unexpected detail of its shiny, black page edging . This is the second of Susie's titles to be published by Chronicle Books, the first being X: The Erotic Treasury with its red Chinese silk cover, gold embossed title and substantial slip cover. Chronicle certainly know how to put out a sensuously beautiful book that begs to be fondled.

But second, and perhaps more importantly, Bitten is a volume full of literary surprises and strikingly well-written prose. As any fan can tell you, Susie Bright knows what she's doing when she edits her anthologies. This time, she has set out to produce a book of gothic erotica and I think she's succeeded beautifully. There are fifteen short stories, each one mesmerizing, transporting and euphoric, in its own way.

There are several stories I would classify as very Gothic in nature. "Resurrection Rose" by Anne Tourney, having a predominantly contemporary setting, is one of the most traditionally Gothic in the collection--very creepy and darkly romantic. "The Rookery" by Jess Wells is another, with its Medieval setting and its unnamable curse; romantic, dark and sad.

"Half-Crown Doxy," while one of my favorites, (anyone who knows me will immediately see the attraction) seems only Gothic in the most strict sense of the definition and this story, more than any of the others, seemed to go against type in the grand scheme of the anthology.

There were several stories with Gothic elements but contemporary settings."Cross-Town Incubus" by E. R. Stewart was great fun with its juxtaposition of the mundane and the fantastic. "The Unfamiliar" by Allison Lawless, another contemporary story with Gothic elements, was reminiscent of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice--but in a very sexual way!

Perhaps my favorite story was "Lay Me Out Softly" by Francesca Lia Block. Another of the contemporary offerings, it is one of the most original pieces of erotica I've read. Otherworldly; familiar, yet not, it creates an uneasy Gothic-noir atmosphere that makes the story impossible to put down.

Keeping all this in mind, I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea--make no mistake: This is erotica! If you have a penchant for Gothic smut that's hot and sexy with a decidedly literary bent, Bitten is your book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2009
Around our place Susie Bright's name is synonymous with bed time reading, not that much sleeping gets done when the stories she collects are read at bed time, or anytime else for that matter. So it's always a pleasure to pick up one of her new collections and sample the wares, and her new collection of erotic stories from the dark side is another estimable work by Susie and her collected authors.

In the introduction to `Bitten' Susie lays out the criteria she gave to the authors she approached in poem form (written on All Saints Day no less). There's no point in repeating the poem here but if you're familiar with her previous work, you'll appreciate the breadth of what she was looking for in the stories. This isn't just horny vampires and over sexed townsfolk. And true to form that commitment to diversity yields up a great collection of stories.

The stories cover a wide range of the erotic, the dark and the mystic. From a confident young woman willing to make the devil wait in Sera Gamble's story, a Jewish witch passing on the wisdom of the ages to a young woman just getting comfortable with her sexuality in `The Witch of Jerome Avenue' to a ravenous, exhausting, invisible, and mobile lover in `Cross Town Incubus', this is an excellent collection of erotic stories, with a dark but not depressing bent to them. I have to admit my threshold for the dark and gothic is low, but the diversity in these stories and the talented authors gathered here made this a pleasure to read. A personal favourite comes (ahem) early on; `The Resurrection Rose' touches on the erotic, rose gardening, and the burden of living for over 200 years with a secret in a powerful and ultimately touching way.

The experience with Bitten starts with a richly textured snake embroiled cover; it is well paced in length, themes and subjects. Bitten is well worth reading even if you and your SO aren't really in the mood, just looking for a good, haunting, or haunted, story. Highly recommended and a worthy addition to Suzie's collection of work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2009
Okay, this is really a four star review. Anthologies tend to be uneven and this one is no different. Some stories are better than others, and, given that this is erotica, some stories get the tingly parts more excited than others. Which stories excite whom is probably pretty subjective. Fortunately, these stories tend to be pretty good aside from the prurient interest, so they're never boring even if they aren't hitting my own sexual buttons. My favorite erotica has always bled into the gothic and horror fields, so a collection of "dark erotica" appeals to me. Some of this isn't exactly "dark," but enough of it is.

My favorite stories in this book are the more baroque ones. "The Resurrection Rose" by Anne Tourney is deliciously decadent in both a fantasy/horror vein and in a sexual vein. "The Rookery" by Jess Wells has a pretty good central metaphor and historical background. "Pandora's Other Box" by Greg Boyd not only reminds me of John Collier (particularly his "Bottle Shop"), it has a great punning title. Likewise, "The Unfamiliar" by Allison Lawless has an agreeable fantasy quaintness. In the purely glandular realm, the stories that really got me off were "Cross-Town Incubus" by E. R. Stewart and "Half-Crown Doxy" by Cate Robertson.

In all, a pretty good collection, but why the extra star? Mainly because, like Susie's last collection (X), the book itself is a thing of beauty, with its sensuous textured cover and black-metallic gilded pages. It's fun just holding it in your hands (or "hand," as the case may be). Kudos to designer Suzanne M. LaGasa and illustrator Hannah Stouffer.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
These seductive tales draw you in so that it's hard to put the book down. Very sexy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2009
When Susie announced she was ending her Best Erotica series, I was a little sad--another tradition gone! Happily, she is back with another compilation of stories. The most successful ones combine, as Baudelaire reminds us, "pleasure and terror." The Devil's Invisible Scissors, Resurrection Rose and Lay Me Out Softly fill that bill. Period pieces like The Resurrection Rose and The Rookery are visual and Gothic and reminded me of Ann Rice at her scene-chewing best. Others like the Cross Town Incubus were a good romp. I could easily see the best of the lot as a series of short films or in the case of the Devil's Invisible Scissors expanded into a longer feature-length film. I could practically read the scene directions!

As other reviewers have noted, the tactile attributes of the cover added to the enjoyment of the reading. I suggest musky perfume samples with the next compilation. Never forget the kinesthetic!
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