To offer her pleasure - by Ali Seay
Off the back of Ali’s magnificent Go Down Hard, I made a mental note to keep a close eye on anything Ali Seay released, and To offer her pleasure hit the shelves sometime at the beginning of September,if memory serves? I bought it, but knew it would be a while till I got to it. Well, that promise to myself was finally realized last week, and I blitzed through it in a day.
It is eminently readable, Seay writes like your best friend, it is so easy to get comfortable and just let her take control of the moving vehicle. And Seay is a Monster truck racer, you know the ride is going to be memorable. And it is.
I made early comparisons in theme to Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads – in that it is grief-driven. The loss of the MC (ben)’s father is the breakdown that fuels his grief-filled obsession. His mother falls apart, into alcoholism, and absconds from her position of Mother and responsible adult, choosing to escape to her own reality and abandons her son. Now the underlying base of the two stories is similar, in that the death of a loved one is the capstone that drives the story forward, but the two MCs could not be more different in their approaches. In Crossroads, the mother wishes to bring her son back and sacrifices herself to do so. Here, the MC decides, through a devilish plot device in the shape of a book, to sacrifice others, for much the same purpose.
Let’s just give the spotlight to that later narrative. It DOES make for mixed feelings on the MC – his absolute commitment to his goal – feeding the book and feeding “her”, is something that makes the character somewhat unpleasant. This isn’t sympathy that is garnered here as he forces a friend to self-mutilate themselves. Likewise, his treatment of a sympathetic gay friend is equally narcissistic - he puts his own needs and wishes in front of the very lives of those he interacts with. Not his love interest, of course, because she is essential to his own self-image of himself as the victim – let’s not forget to feel sorry for him?
It’s brilliantly done.
You feel sorry for Ben, but just not that sorry. We watch in mild repulsion as he goes through the stages of ever-increasing commitment to a process he started until we are as desperate to see it finished as he is – stopping the runaway train was never an option, the only question is of how much he has to personally do himself – and reducing that participation is seen as a win.
It’s Hedonistic, make no mistake, regardless of its grief-fueled origins, and Seay illustrates it just enough. She pans away from gratuitous violence. We see the aftermath of Ben’s decisions, all the while shaking our heads but still wanting to see just how bad is it going to get. It mocks us in our own sensibilities – I couldn’t agree with Ben’s logic but was as caught in the loop as he was, wondering exactly what would happen if “She” manifested enough…
Seay writes with passion, and the rollercoaster allows no one to get off once the ride is underway, bringing you through all of the highs and lows until the inevitable end where Ben decides the actual thing the book is based upon – the worth of the life of a person that has abandoned you. Other reviewers can highlight non-sensical sections, faults in thinking, happy circumstances, or flaws of logic, but honestly, I didn’t care. Seay captured me, and took me, once again, on a whirlwind ride to an ending that was long ago decided , foreseeable, yet the vortex of the book, and totally inescapable.
5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s, A great addition to the growing Seay collection.
You can purchase "To offer her pleasure" on your local Amazon, by clicking the appropriate link: