I’ll be honest. I don’t usually read erotica, but the premise of Xavier Axelson’s Lily drew me in so I gave this short novella a read. I’m glad I did.
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Lily is about loss—not the grief that comes with death, but the painful yearning of separation. Pryor suffers this loss when a wolf drags his young daughter, Lily, away. Single-mindedly, he searches for her, but instead of a girl he finds a wolf with fur that looks and smells like Lily’s hair. He hears his daughter’s voice in the forest and she tells him that she will return for one night on Father’s Day, the night she was taken.
While the word “werewolf” pops up a few times, this is not a typical horror tale. Every scene featuring Lily is eerie—especially the climax when Lily returns, but the story is more concerned with Pryor. Throughout the course of the novella, we see how finding love has helped him to cope. We meet Ned, a silversmith who crafts a necklace for Pryor in memory of Lily. Pryor desires Ned and finds that his lust is a welcome distraction from heartache. He pursues the relationship and as he falls in love with Ned, his heart begins to heal.
I loved that this story avoided clichés & stereotypes. The characters and the plot kept me guessing right up until the end. Too often authors paint parents one-dimensionally —particularly in the horror genre. Pryor is a fully realized character. He is vulnerable in a way that father’s are rarely depicted. Pryor’s reawakened sexuality stirs up conflicting feelings of guilt and relief.
This is a story you can easily read in one sitting. Axelson’s writing is well-paced and poignant. I saw the forest he described vividly. Reading his words, you smell the wind and feel the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. His talent for description carries over to the erotica. The sex scenes are graphic and abundant. Erotica fans will not be disappointed.
Personally, I was more interested in Pryor’s relationship with his daughter and wanted more backstory. I was left with too many unanswered questions. I wanted to know how old Lily was, if Lily had any other family, and what Lily’s childhood was like before she was taken. There were many instances where the erotica felt forced and took away from the slow-building suspense of Lily’s impending return.
As for Pryor and Ned’s relationship, I wanted more romance. There was too much focus on their physical relationship and very little devoted to the emotional aspect. I was left wondering why these characters were together. In places, I felt Ned was too pushy and at times abusive towards Pryor. In one scene, Ned pushes Pryor into a car, hitting Pryor’s head in the process. I had a difficult time seeing how this relationship evolved beyond escape to lasting love.
What I liked about the Ned storyline was Pryor’s realization that he could be a lover and a father. One did not cancel out the other. Also, in taking care of himself, Pryor is able to offer his daughter the selfless love she needs.
I recommend Lily to fans of gay erotica that are looking for an original, multi-layered story, rich in atmosphere and character development.
AUTHOR: Xavier Axelson
PUBLISHER: Seventh Window Publications
RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2014
GENRE: Horror/Suspense, Erotica
LENGTH: 53 pages (ebook)
About the Author
Xavier Axelson is a writer and columnist living in Los Angeles. Xavier’s work has been featured in various erotic and horror anthologies. Longer written works include The Incident, Velvet, and Lily. Xavier covers Fringe Culture for the Los Angeles Examiner.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook
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Review Clause: The publicist provided me with a review copy of Lily in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was provided.