Kevin Sweeny’s The Whorehouse That Jack Built could be best described as what one might arrive at if they attempted to blend Hellraiser with The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and set the tale in the late 1800s. There’s plenty of humor, though of a darker variety, and there’s a whole lot of focus on the place where pleasure meets pain in a sublime confluence.
For the dying and the insane, a choice is given to cross the rubicon, to enter the Half-World in the Undiscovered Country. By giving up everything, the damned are provided with a chance to experience something no living soul, a single night of pleasure beyond anything available in Heaven or on Earth. All it costs is everything.
We’re first introduced to this in-between house of carnal delights as Clem approaches the door with his old dog, Lady, by his side. Lady is no stranger to Clem’s sexual predilections, having served as his partner since she was a small pup.
Aside from his blood, sweat, seed, and soul, Lady is the final sacrifice Clem makes as he crosses the threshold. Will he regret this decision or will the unearthly pleasures provided in the countless rooms of the whorehouse be sufficient to assuage the loss of his beloved Lady?
As a dog lover–of a vastly different definition–I was not fond of Clem. Clem’s part in this narrative also includes language that, while appropriate to the time and the location, might offend some readers. It’s no less enjoyable for these things. Hell, it’s probably more enjoyable for the historical authenticity and the attention to detail Sweeny included.
We’re next introduced to the albino preacher who arrives at the Half-World doors for an entirely different purpose, contrary to those of the usual guests. This new arrival comes just as the story comes to its end, leaving us wishing for more.
Thankfully, the second installment in this series is already available, and there is more to come.
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