Soon enough we'll get to see how legendary director Bill Condon brings to life the incredibly messed-up conclusion to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Chances are, we're in for one of the all-time great "did I just see that?" scenes.
(For details of just what we're in for, click here. Beware spoilers.)
But hard as it is to believe, Twilight's conclusion isn't the wrongest thing a fantasy writer has ever committed to paper. Here are 10 other fantasy or paranormal romance sagas that go to places that would make even Stephenie Meyer say, "Wait. You went there?"
Top image: Robert Pattinson, photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images.
First, a disclaimer: We're not making any judgments about the literary merit or goodness of the following stories, which include some of our favorite reads. Just because something's messed up doesn't make it bad, by any means.
10) Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
Two words: aphrodisiac sperm. If the Incubus Eidolon ejaculates on you, you will be driven mad by lust and passion, and basically become his thrall. Eidolon works as a doctor in a demon hospital, and he meets the demon-slayer Tayla, who's sworn to kill him and his kind. You can guess what happens next, especially when Tayla gets a dose of his awesome demon seed. (At one point, she says, "You should bottle that stuff.") Unfortunately, Eidolon has a few problems: He's about to turn 100, at which point his sexual urges will get so uncontrollable that he'll have no choice but to go around attempting to "impregnate everything in sight," unless he finds a mate. And his species is incapable of masturbating to orgasm. (This is discussed at great length.) All of this basically adds up to lots and lots of demony sex. As one Amazon review says, "When [the book] had a doctor have sex with a patient he had just sewn back together in the emergency room of the hospital at the beginning of the book, I almost quit reading."
9) Touched by Venom by Janine Cross
This is one book that sparked a lot of debate when it came out, although a lot of people defended it as a dystopian classic. But there's no denying that there are a lot of scenes in which the main character, Zarq, gets weird visions from the hallucinogenic saliva of a dragon. And the absolute best way to get a good dose of dragon spit turns out to be... well... dragon oral sex. In one passage, Zarq sits on the dragon's mouth, so that she feels "his mouth a thumbnails length from my sex, [and] his firm gums brushing my buttocks," and then the dragon sticks out his tongue. And this enables the heroine to see hidden secrets and glimpse the mysteries of dragons and stuff. But still. Dragon oral sex.
8) Grunts by Mary Gentle
This parody of Lord of the Rings and its many imitators is generally very well-regarded and has a loyal following — but even this brutal novel's biggest fans say it's not for everyone. For one thing, this is the book that gave us the phrase, "Pass another elf. This one has split." And then there are the S&M Hobbits, who roam around in BDSM gear killing people, while their mother is doing other naughty things with all comers. And then there are the Orcs who are the novel's main characters — they resent the fact that they're doomed to die in the final battle against goodness, until they discover some modern military weapons. And along the way, they commit more than their fair share of atrocities. (At one point, halflings snack on a human toddler body.)
7) Athima by Courtney Bee
Sexy cat ladies abound in comics, science-fiction and slutty Halloween costumes. But they can go oh so wrong. Sevils are female cat creatures that are very human-like in appearance but are bred as living sex toys (um…ick). Alex meets a sevil when he's eleven (double ick) and decides that he too will one day buy a sentient sex slave cause they're hawt. Athima is wild and semi-feral, unlike the rest of the normally subservient sevils. Which is basically romance novel speak for "there will be spanking." Have you ever tried spanking a cat? He should have just gotten a squirty bottle of water instead.
6) Dust by Joan Frances Turner
Dust is a zombie novel from the zombie's point of view. No complaints there! And here's the now undead Jessie describing her equally undead gang member Joe, "The whole right side of his face was smashed in, concave forehead and crushed cheekbone and one eye bugging precariously from a broken socket. He was purplish-black, and dirty white: Maggots seethed from every pore and crawled across him in excited wriggly piles, blowflies waving and blooming and wilting, the bits of bone they'd scraped clean glinting like tiny mosaic tiles." One thing you should know about Joe. He's the love interest. This zombie love story doesn't get relatively glamorous, like S.G. Browne's Breathers.
5) The Pern books by Anne McCaffrey
As everybody knows, the dragons of Pern are psychically bonded with their riders — and when the dragons go into heat and start mating, their riders are also filled with lust for each other. So if your dragon mates with another dragon, you have to hook up with that other dragon's rider. In the earlier books, this is mostly depicted as consensual — dragonriders who like each other are more likely to have dragons that hook up. But in later books, it's definitely not up to the dragonriders. Also, McCaffrey spells out in the later books that some dragons can have a sexually compulsive effect on people generally. Like in Dragonquest, we learn the hard way that a green dragon that gets out of its Weyr during mating season can fill all the humans, even the young ones, with a sexual frenzy. There's also the weird thing where the female green dragons are generally ridden by men, who hook up with the male riders of blue, bronze and brown dragons, whether they want to or not. (Here is McCaffrey's explanation of why this happens.)
4) The Black Jewels by Anne Bishop
Bishop won the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award for this trilogy, which is widely acclaimed as an honest exploration of sexual abuse and other dark themes. But this novel series doesn't shy away from going to some very weird places — like the fact that the men in the matriarchal kingdom of Tereille are enslaved and forced to wear magical cock rings that cause them a lot of pain whenever they're punished. Jaenelle, the main character, of course has a soul mate who falls instantly in love with her the moment he sees her. She is 7 and he is 17…hundred. But don't worry! Daemon, her future consort, is willing to wait a bit. Jaenelle is a powerful witch, whose existence has been prophesied, and in the magical Soulplane she appears as golden furred, hoofed, tailed, unicorn-horned being, or her true form. Which Daemon still finds hot. Meanwhile, Jaenelle grows up in a house that basically exists so the downtrodden men can rape girls, and nearly goes insane after being raped by her enemies. Also the evil witch seduces and rapes her own son.
3) The Cat's Fancy by Julie Kenner
Nick is an attorney who's engaged to marry the uber-bitchy daughter of his boss. His black cat, Maggie, is totally devoted to him and hates Nick's fiancee — so she decides to do whatever it takes to keep Nick for herself. She somehow convinces the magical Old Tom to transform her, so that she appears as a naked woman on Nick's doorstep. By day, she's a cat. By night, she's a naked lady stalking Nick. She has one week to get him to say he loves her, or she loses. But she still sort of has the mind of a cat. Read here for an excerpt, including the great scene where she crawls around on all fours, still naked. Later in the book, she forgets she's supposed to be human and starts eating kitty treats. By all accounts, this is a fun paranormal romance... as long as you don't think too much about a guy and his pet cat hooking up.
2) Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton
Narcissus in Chains is widely cited as being the moment the Anita Blake series took a turn for the seriously messed up and weird. Anita has returned to her friends and lovers (mostly lovers) after some time away. One of her boy-toys has gone completely off the deep-end and is killing people. A were-leopard has proposed to her. Her were-wolf boyfriend gets angry at her. And her vampire boyfriend has infected her with a new form of vampirism which lets her feed off people's lust, but she has to have sex ALL THE TIME or she will DIE. (Did we mention she's a necromancer/vampire/were-everything?) At one point, she has group sex with three guys, and then spends ages debating whether it was actually sex. Also, when she's first seized with the vampire lust power ("ardeur"), she takes advantage of a guy who's incapable of saying no, and she muses, "If someone can't tell you no, it's rape, or something close to it." Later, she's basically raped in the shower by a man who then becomes her boyfriend — although in the paperback version, Hamilton rewrote the scene to make it more ambiguously consensual. Hamilton wrote a blistering response to the "negative fans" who criticized the weird turn her books had taken, saying, "The arduer is a pain in my, and Anita's butt, too. But I believe in my world."
1) The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass
This book series is full of magic and folks beleaguered by Time Demons and guys in armor and incest. Creepy, terrible, possessed-by-dead-people incest. The initial incest is of the relatively mundane variety. Caelum, the Starson ruler, sleeps with one of his sisters. She gets pregnant and tries to blackmail him, so he kills her, frames his brother Drago and then gives his brother the memory of violently killing the dead sister. But wait! There's more! Drago and Caelum have another sister, Zenith. She's a powerful magic user, which makes her the perfect vessel to hold the spirit of Niah, a dead, but also powerful magic user. So Niah's nigh-immortal lover, WolfStar brings back Niah who possesses Zenith. But Niah is Zenith's grandmother and WolfStar is Zenith's grandfather. And Zenith is still in her body and conscious of what's going on. So when Niah and WolfStar have hot and heavy sex, it's intercut with Zenith's response to being raped. And then Zenith gets pregnant (which is apparently a bad idea on this planet). While Niah and WolfStar pick out colors for the nursery, Zenith wrests control of her body back. She forces Niah's soul into the body of the fetus and batters herself until she miscarries. Then she slaps WolfStar in the face repeatedly with the dead fetus that contains the soul of WolfStar's lover. In a later book, Zenith and WolfStar fall in love.
Thanks a bunch to Liz F. and everyone else at Wiscon who suggested stuff!