The Absinthe Literary Review, Book Reviews Spring 2002
B O O K   R E V I E W 

Eros and Thanatos  2002

The Martinet by M.S. Valentine

The Martinet
M.S. Valentine
Chimera Publishing, Waterlooville, U.K.
221 pp.  $8.95




Though the salacious S&M-Barbie cover bears little relation to the literary material inside, this should not give a prospective reader pause. What should give him/her pause is that The Martinet is a pulpy sex-genre offering that, frankly, shows little or no originality in a literary sense.  Yes, there are some fun archaicisms employed both in language and in story, but they are used so repetitively and unimaginatively that they fail to enliven the text to any significant degree. The characters, though cast in an S&M setting, are standard romance-novel issue. Cliché abounds in the form of stable-hands, highwaymen, chambermaids, strict masters and submissive slaves. The writing, though florid (normally an Absinthe bonus) and for the most part competent, lacks the poetic and political sensibility needed to elevate such a work beyond the base confines of spank material. The author borrows heavily from works of The Divine Marquis (Justine, 120 Days of Sodom) in both idiom and action yet seems completely unaware of the source of Sade’s dynamism/literary importance—his obsession with social and spiritual transgression. I suppose there may be some social transgression inherent in the act of shoving wooden dildos into the “fundament” (you know, I liked that word prior to reading it here a few hundred times) of “the beautiful daughter on an English earl,” (repeated again and again until it’s bleeding from your ears) but in The Martinet, the act evokes no interest other than that of the most prurient variety. It’s really nothing more than gothic romance posing as hardcore erotica, but if you’re into repetitive anal penetration, slave bondage and piercings* with happy endings, then this book is for you.  However, if your reading goals are more literary, less narrow, or less libidinous, it should be avoided like a weeping sore.  

*(Hint to literalists and copycats: Don’t try using iron piercings anywhere but in fictional genitalia. Why? Two words: Rust and Tetanus.) 

– CAW –