Review: Out of the Shadows and into the Darkness
Out of the Shadows and into the Darkness by Senta Holland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I didn't like this book at all which is why I'm rating it a 1 star. There was nothing in here I could enjoy. However, since I'm reviewing it for a book review site and they have specific criteria for ratings, I'm also posting those below. This way, it will be clear how the ratings could be different.
Sting (Kink) Rating: ★★✰✰✰
Story Review Rating: 2 Paddles
The realities of BDSM can be harsh. Senta finds this to be all too true in her journey of self-discovery. This story is written in a "stream of conscious" prose. It's neither poetry nor lyrical. It comes across as a young girl writing in her diary. The question is, can the reader trust what the girl is writing in her diary or is everything a fabrication of her imagination?
Senta is a supposed British ex-patriate living in Bangkok. She meets the man of her dreams. This man is a wealthy American living the high life with his wife. However, he finds a piece of himself missing. This essential piece is his need for BDSM. The story is narrated in first person from Senta's point of view.
Ms. Holland took a chance here and wrote not only in first person but also in a telling rather than showing style. I am neither a fan of first person narrative nor do I like being talked at with philosophical lectures. Based on her style of prose, it appears there is willful breaking of grammatical rules. Commas and quotations are violated as well as traditional sentence structure.
From a story telling perspective, this tale is hard to enjoy. For one thing, I've been an ex-pat to a foreign country. My experiences as an ex-pat are not too different than the character, Senta. Even the experiences of Senta from a BDSM exposure isn't that different from mine. What is trying is the way the story is written. Instead of being treated sensual scenes of BDSM, the reader is forced through a long lecture of BDSM posers versus real BDSM lifestylers. While the character states in several instances how she is not judgmental of kinks different from her lifestyle, it falls flat because there is no demonstration of her lack of judgment. The constant philosophizing about the BDSM adventure grew tedious. If Ms. Holland could have presented a fresh look or deep analysis about BDSM, even just a specific act, then this would cause the reader to think about it. Instead, the analysis came across shallow through questions presented than points to ponder. Senta is no Dagny coming to an epiphany as in Atlas Shrugged. Instead, Senta comes across more of a confused Daisy in the Great Gatsby.
This book did try to come across as a deeper journey with meaning into an alternative lifestyle through sacrifice and love lost. Instead it showcased a foolish woman taken for granted. Many times, Senta would try a counter argue about how people felt she was throwing her life away. She's argue how her independence and her livelihood is built on a solid foundation. Yet the constant insecure thoughts of not seeing her "Nai" again negates her protests of great love. Each time Senta would wave her wand and explain away the failures with some kind of delusional emotion. Even the ending of the story is odd as Senta chooses willful ignorance and declares to love forever more. She is devote to someone who is not willing to do the same for her. Perhaps it's because I prefer logic over sentiment that this story doesn't work for me at all. Or perhaps it's because the I don't need Ms. Holland's explanation of BDSM beaten into me with a hammer like effect.
At times, I couldn't tell if Ms. Holland was trying to write a cautionary BDSM non-fiction advice book or if it was a lover scorned memoir. Either way, it didn't match story blurb. My expectations was to read about a journey of self-discovery into the BDSM lifestyle accented with love and hot sex scenes. Instead, the BDSM scenes were unsatisfactory and the love was more an obsession unfulfilled.
The basic concepts of D/s were missed here. Where is the trust and open communication? From the start, the D/s is hidden and while there is a poking fun of "negotiations", there were no real scenes of power exchange. The reader was treated to flowery prose of how awesome Senta felt submitting to her "Nai". It reminds me of vapor ware. This reader is not buying it. The reader is told the D/s is there but in actuality, it's just a concept tossed in without any concrete applications. One could argue the BD existed through the scene with chaining. Or even that SM was carried out with the whippings and canings. From my perspective, the scenes didn't even make sense. And it was clear from Senta's point of view, the chaining didn't do anything for her. She wasn't aroused nor did see feel any erotic power exchange. Why was Senta caned? Beats me. It was for some punishment that flew by me. Perhaps it was the lack of proper sentence structure and paragraphs which caused my mind to miss it.
My recommendation for Ms. Holland is to drop the lecture tone and cease with the constant mentioning of BDSM. It is possible to write a BDSM story without ever using the term BDSM. This is accomplished by showing rather than telling. I also recommend against using first person. There are some authors who can write in first person very well. This is because their character is designed to be an everyday person who can be relatable and admired. Senta the character is neither relatable nor admirable. I feel only pity for her hallucinations. This book is a difficult read. Perhaps those enjoy streams of consciousness and illicit confessions would enjoy this tale.
5 Stings – The BDSM sex scenes are memorable and phenomenal.
4 Stings – The BDSM scenes are done very well.
3 Stings – The BDSM scenes are mediocre. May or may not contain some minor flaws.
2 Stings – The BDSM were light and just kinky.
1 Stings – Where was the BDSM scenes? Non-existent
5 paddles - Gripping and un-putdownable. Has a place on my keeper shelf. Great chance of re-reading.
4 paddles - Excellent. Highly enjoyable and well-written. But may not be keepers
3 paddles - Average. May or may not contain some minor flaws.
2 paddles - Contains major flaws and needs improvement.
1 paddle - Not enjoyable and wouldn't recommend.
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