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[Review] The Complete Adventures of Silver Girl by Madam Kistulot

I am fond of written smut. It’s rare that I don’t have a book by the bed, a few tabs open in my browser, or audiobooks lurking on my phone. And I’m also into mind play (obviously). So it should come as no surprise that mind control erotica holds a special place in my heart. That said, I have to admit that it’s not a genre in which I expect to find books that really have a strong impact on me. Not because of anything inherent about erotica, but rather because most authors (of mind control in particular) don’t really venture that deep or write something that complex. Most authors and most readers simply don’t need that. But despite not really expecting it, that’s exactly what happened.

The Complete Adventures of Silver Girl is a series of seven novels written by Madam Kistulot. It’s lesbian super hero mind control erotica, and it’s not normally the sort of thing I seek out to read. I think it’s the super hero part. For a long time I had a bias against super hero novels. The genre was just so linked to comic books and film in my mind, that something seemed wrong about engaging with it on the written page. These stories got me over that quickly. Though, if I think back on it now, I can’t really recall what it was that nudged me into giving Silver Girl a chance. But I did.

And, honestly? It is one of the most enjoyable and touching pieces of erotic fiction that I have ever read.

So that’s your spoiler free review, folks. It’s really good! Start reading (though, do note: this series traffics heavily in incest and non-consensual sexual encounters, additionally it includes some negative attitudes about sex work). If you’re not yet convinced, want my detailed analysis, or just hang on my every word, stick around for my detailed, novel by novel review below.

The Complete Adventures of Silver Girl comprises seven novels published online between 2005 and 2007. Together they tell the story of a young hero from the start of her career, through her exploits saving the world, and into adulthood, relationships, and motherhood.

The Adventures of Silver Girl (2005)
This story introduces our protagonist: Sarah LaSilvas a.k.a. Silver Girl. Sarah is a relatively inexperienced young super with a big heart, shiny sparks, and a bit of a self-confidence problem. But she does her best to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a costumed hero. When she accepts an invitation from a mysterious organization, her life is changed dramatically. She embarks on a journey that will teach her more about her powers and herself, and which will eventually put her in the crosshairs of an ancient and wicked threat.

The Adventures of Silver Girl is a young woman’s early work. It was written when the author was eighteen and it shows. It’s disorganized, experimental, and receives an antagonist and conflict pretty late in the game. In almost anyone else’s hands, I don’t think it would have grabbed me. But Madam Kistulot is exceptional. What the novel lacks in technical perfection and structure, it makes up for in enthusiasm and strength of character. Moreover, it sets the precedent for an interesting parallelism as the same criticism can be levied against Sarah herself. In a way, it is extremely appropriate that the first person narrated adventures of a young girl just discovering who she is and what she can do are written by an author who is doing the same.

I enjoyed this novel immensely and found myself hooked, but if the writing puts you off I’d still recommend trying to skim through, it’s well worth it to get to the later novels.

Silver Eclipse (2006)
After the events of The Adventures of Silver Girl, life has slowly returned to abnormal. This novel sees Sarah tangle with a sensual group of villains, encounter multiversal mayhem, discover a human trafficking ring (firsthand), and wind up in the clutches of a woman who is simply and delightfully evil. When rescue comes it’s a frying pan to fire type of situation as the events of the previous novel come back to haunt her. At the end, Sarah makes a truly heroic decision and the story closes in a dark place.

Despite the fact that there are seven novels, Silver Eclipse feels like the second entry in a trilogy. It expands the world, tells a tighter and more focused story, and leaves us in a darker place than we started. If the first novel displays Madam Kistulot’s enthusiasm, this novel displays her talent. It’s sleeker, more mature, and well put together. For all that it leaves us in a precarious position; the conclusion is extremely satisfyingly with Sarah making a hard choice and sacrificing so much to do the right thing.

Silver Eclipse strikes me as a thoroughly enjoyable work from an erotic standpoint while also managing to build the world and carry on the larger story. I found the imagery so powerful I’ve borrowed some of it (with the author’s permission) for my own work. If a reader has lingering doubts about the series, Silver Eclipse should dispel them.

The Memory Remains (2006)
Powerless, with a heart defect and a name that doesn’t fit anymore, Sarah manages to hold onto her hope. This story sees a return home, memories and mysteries of the past, and concludes in rebirth.

For lack of a better term, The Memory Remains is a pastoral interlude, which isn’t something one often sees in erotica. It’s a quieter story involving history, family, magic and identity. It’s also the point at which one might begin to suspect that Madam Kistulot has a thing for incest. It greatly builds the world and mythology, and when things move on, they are on a different course that is at once both hopeful and affirming, but also a bit darker.

This novel struck me both by how unexpected it was and how emotional it was. It’s hard for me to call it the best one in the series, but in some ways it is the most significant. It’s unclear if it really forged my emotional connection with the character, or just highlighted one that had been there all along. It also might have made me cry.

The Argentum Project (2007)
Sarah has become Lucia and returns to the city as Patina: a motorcycle riding, anti-hero with a hypnotic edge. What starts out as a bit of a vengeance kick turns much more serious as she uncovers a plot that threatens the entire world. But Patina doesn’t work alone, and when the time comes her team puts themselves in the line of fire to save the planet!

The Argentum Project is essentially a 90s comic book in text form (with more orgasms). Of all the novels this one is probably most in touch with its comic book genre roots, up to and including a motorcycle riding anti-hero, a love for pouches and gadgets, and an orbital space laser. The story involves the corruption that comes with power and the idea that the right motivations can lead people down some very wrong paths. And while it doesn’t have the emotional depth of its predecessor, it does deal with uniquely super hero relationship angst. It’s a step in the right direction in nearly all aspects. That said, it does have a major shortcoming: the character Pandora is a bit painful to read. Her portrayal and dialogue comes across as stilted and racially stereotyped in a way that jars with everything else.

This story is really fun! It seems bright and bigger than the rest and reminds me of the super hero cartoons of my tween years. It consistently makes me laugh and gives me thrill of delight. And I am a sucker for the romantic relationship that begins to develop here.

Ink Soaked Penumbra (2007)
A mysterious force begins to write her way into Sarah/Lucia’s life. Friends turn to enemies. Love gets tainted. And the enemy of an enemy becomes the most unexpected ally. More may be at stake than ever before, but instead of a shining laser in the heavens this threat lurks in ink soaked streets and behind the eyes of those you trust.

Where The Argentum Project focused on the comic book influences on the series, Ink Soaked Penumbra is more rooted in urban fantasy and horror. Certainly tendrils of horror have appeared in the series before, it’s a vein that runs very close to mind control in general, but the atmosphere has never been as ominous and the betrayals never hurt as much. It’s a story of magic, witches, and reality writing carried out by a talented author whose tongue is firmly in cheek about having an evil novelist as a villain. It tells a tight story and also builds the mythology and provides a strong foundation for the finale.

It’s hard to pick a favorite in this series, but this novel is a strong contender. Not only does it tell a story in a genre of which I’m fond, but the erotic elements really click with me. The slow, rewriting of familiar characters is spine tingling and delicious. Oh, and the twist literally made me stop (sweaty, gasping, and with magic wand in hand) to yell out loud about what an emotional gut punch it was. I have to respect that.

To Serve and Obey (2007)
The blasts from the past show up in force as The Complete Adventures of Silver Girl begin to draw to a close. Sarah’s life, relationship, and motherhood are all threatened when a few frenemies from her history force their way back into her life. It’s a story about an adult hero facing her past and coming through to defend her future.

This is probably the most deep, mature, and emotionally rough novel in the series (yes, even despite the secret order of breast ninjas). It fills the classic hero’s journey role of ‘the return’, where our hero is confronted with her old life and has to process how she has been changed by her experiences. Old friends maybe weren’t that friendly, old loves maybe weren’t that healthy, the things you did might be things you can’t be proud of, and the people who seemed perfect are so deeply flawed. It’s a point where both the character and the writer can look back over the long path that led them here and acknowledge how much they have matured. Expect a bittersweet taste.

Hands down this novel feels like the most meaningful of the series. Though I have to admit that I’m personally biased. I’ve been abused by several people that I love, and Sarah’s experience in this story resonates so strongly with those experiences: the twisted feelings, the misplaced lust, and the sense that someone who you once viewed as divine is only human. It’s a novel about growing up, moving on, making yourself better, and also understanding that your past will always impact you and those you love.

Red Moon Rising (2007)
Following shameless sequel baiting at the end of To Serve and Obey, Sarah departs on one last adventure! This time the conflict is about families and sins of the mother. Together the LaSilvas clan, their partners, and some allies will face something more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. And before the end of all things, we’ll see two of the greatest acts of love and heroism in the entire series.

Red Moon Rising concludes the meta-plot of the series. Whereas To Serve and Obey was a strong conclusion to Sarah’s personal journey, Red Moon Rising seeks to put an end to the shadowy magical forces that have been plaguing her since the end of The Adventures of Silver Girl. It’s too significant to call it a victory lap, but it has a feeling of confidence and capability that never really crystallized until this point. And it ends in the way of all super hero stories, with a conclusion that has wrapped up most major threads, but still leaves our hero’s future open.

This is an extremely good novel. It blends the exciting, epic feeling of The Argentum Project with the LaSilvas family lore that we were introduced to in The Memory Remains. Over its course it’s less emotionally deep than some of the others, but does end with a real tearjerker. Once I finished all I wanted to do was hold my Partner tight and never let her go. All in all, it is a very fitting conclusion. Over the course of seven novels we’ve seen Sarah grow up, and at the end of Red Moon Rising she’s an exceptional woman, mother, and hero. It’s hard not to want more, and it’s not exactly a happy ending, but the story leaves her (and us) in a good place.

It’s hard to find a way to succinctly conclude my thoughts on The Complete Adventures of Silver Girl. It moved me in ways no other piece of erotica has, it helped me through a rather stressful time in my life, and it has led to two friendships that I deeply value. It’s a fascinating story about a girl growing up and learning to own her sexuality, her mistakes, her heroism, and her power. And it doesn’t hurt that its author is bursting with talent and dripping with enthusiasm. If you are at all interested in mind control, costumed heroes, or emotional smut, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

[Review] Love Not Given Lightly by Tina Horn

When I sat down to write this, I had to stop and think for a minute about how I’d first learned of Tina Horn. It was back in 2015 and my life was in a very different place. I’d been doing grad school for around two years and sex work for around a year, but both were on hiatus for the moment. I was home for the last time, and I was a little lost. It was after a death and I had far too much to occupy my hands and far too little to occupy my mind. And that’s when I found Why Are People Into That?! (YAPIT).

I was hooked. Here was this awesome, queer punk interviewing the most interesting people on  such a wide variety of kinky topics. It not only gave me a deeper appreciation for things I already loved, but it gave such clear insight into realms of kink that I had never experienced. So yes, go listen to it. But that’s not the primary thing I wanted to talk about today.

I want to talk about Love Not Given Lightly. Because while YAPIT is an exceptionally good podcast, and I knew that I was likely to like anything Tina Horn wrote, this book surpassed any of my expectations. And there are a couple of reasons for that.

Love Not Given Lightly, is not, as I had expected, a book about sex work. It really isn’t a book about any large concept. Rather, It’s a book about a number of  individual sex workers and clients. It displays their lives, loves, aspirations, pain, and humanity. The subtitle calls these glimpses ‘profiles’, though that word might conjure something a bit more technical and formulaic than what we see here. What Tina presents are slices of lives with respect to their intersection with sex work. And each slice is both fascinating and beautiful.

The work is brief and remains focused on its subjects. Tina herself acknowledges that a general treatment of sex work and sex workers would require more diversity (which one can even see YAPIT and her other work as attempting to deliver). But despite that, there is a great deal of the universal in these accounts. These are the little experiences that are common to all of us. And while some of those experiences will resonate strongest with those of us in the business of pleasure, I think it would be impossible for anyone to read this book without experiencing a deep empathy for the people in its pages.

Additionally: Tina Horn can write really well. I mean really well, y’all. It’s an exemplary work of non-fiction. I know not everyone is attentive to or enamored with writing quality, but if you are, this book is even more of a delight.

So please, give Love Not Given Lightly a read. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, it’s well worth it at any price. And if you tell me you made it through with eyes that are perfectly dry and a soul that hasn’t been touched, I’ll give you a smile and call you the liar you are.

Available at:
Amazon
Salacious Magazine