We hope you enjoy this book review by Douglas R. Cobb.

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Serpentine by Thomas F. Monteleone is a horror novel about the ultimate heterosexual male fantasy gone terribly wrong. Imagine a knockout beautiful blonde bombshell who loves sex all of the time, an insatiable nymphomaniac who lives for sex. The trouble is, she’s a demon whose true form is a snake’s, and when I wrote that she/it lives for sex, what I meant was that she/it - who goes generally by the name of Sophia Rousseau - while having sex with men feeds off of their souls, their creative energies, eventually leaving them empty, dead husks, and then she moves on to other men (and occasionally, women) to feed her need.

It may be wrong to enjoy reading a novel that appeals to my, and men’s, in general, basest urges. But, it’s not a novel of sexual exploitation, at least - unless by that, you mean Sophia’s exploitation of men. It could, I suppose, be read as a novel of sexual empowerment for women, because Sophia is the one in total control of every sexual situation she finds herself in, and can turn on or off a man’s desires with very little effort on her part. But, of course, she’s not technically a woman, but a demonic monster. At any rate, the sex is fairly of the soft-core variety, and knowing what Sophia’s real purpose is in having sex changes the feeling while reading those scenes from one of mild titillation to mild horror.

What sets this apart from the majority of horror stories and adds to the interest is that it is also, in part, a detective story. The man who does the "detecting," is Michael Cavendish, a wealthy author of a series of books on strange, mysterious and/or unexplained phenomena. The trail of dead bodies that Sophia leaves throughout Europe before moving on to America definitely qualifies as being something that piques Cavendish’s interest, and he learns through his research that she is a lamia, a type of vampire-like succubus whose true form is a serpent’s. Also, she has been killing men for centuries or longer, under different names - that is, until an exorcist caught on to her, and had her imprisoned under an altar stone of a church in Scarpino, Sicily.

As the novel opens, workmen are demolishing parts of the old church, to get building material for a new church they’re building to take the old one’s place. Unfortunately, this inadvertently releases the demon from its prison, and unleashes its horrors upon the world once again. How can Cavendish hope to succeed against such a (literally) entrancing foe, without falling under her hypnotic spell himself?

He enlists the aid of a man, the playwright Richard Hammaker, who, due to a tragic accident involving acid, is immune to Sophia’s abundant charms, that’s how. One of Hammaker’s best friends, perhaps his only one, the man funding his latest play, The Vindication -Stephen Sandler - who fell under Sophia’s spell and gave her the lead died, left worn out husk like all of her other hapless victims. He at first has a hard time believing Cavendish’s wild tale about Rousseau, but eventually agrees to help put an end to the lamia’s reign of terror.

If you like tales of the macabre variety, especially ones spiced with a little bit of sex, then Serpentine is very likely a novel you’ll enjoy reading. It will keep you reading late into the night, and might make you give pause the next time, if you’re a man, and are at a bar thinking about picking up a one night stand. Perhaps the hot young woman you’re lusting over and who gives in a tad too easily might have...motives of her own. Check out this novel, and succumb to Sophia’s spell for yourselves!



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