"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Balustrade by Mark Henry

A couple on the verge of divorce begrudgingly agree to an unorthodox marital retreat. Despite warnings and portents, Hilary and Jack travel to the remote Washington scablands, braving a strange religious demonstration to arrive at Balustrade, an oddly voyeuristic couples program.

Under the tutelage of Chantal, a harsh mistress, and Ludo, a brooding sex surrogate, the couple find their most intimate relations under discomfiting scrutiny. The therapy is ritualistic, sensual, wearing away their inhibitions to lush, orgiastic ends. For a while, Hilary luxuriates in a slippery, sensual descent into wickedness. But when time begins to disintegrate in dream-like fugues, sexual awakening takes a turn for the sinister.

Clandestine cabals whisper behind closed doors. Robed figures congregate in the dark cavern at the apex of the strange building’s courtyard.

Nothing is quite as it seems. And a question looms…

Is it the intention of Chantal and Balustrade to help mend their failing marriage or are their minds and bodies being groomed for more sinister, carnal purposes? Hilary must strive to unlock the secrets behind Balustrade before it pushes her to the brink of insanity and ignites her darkest urges.


I don't even know what just happened. I don't know what I just read. All I know is it was amazing. I've never read anything like this before. Erotic, paranormal verging on horror. This couple, on the verge of a divorce, agree to a couples retreat; at first I really disliked Hilary, the wife. I thought she was just a bitch, plain and simple. I felt so sorry for her husband Jack, who was doing everything in his power to make their marriage work, and she wasn't even appreciative. That first sex scene with them was so sad; I could feel her indifference, her disdain, and Jack's sadness and desperation. But as the story progressed, I could understand her reluctance to participate in the retreat and her suspicion that something evil was lurking nearby. I began to dislike Jack, as he started to come off more selfish than I originally thought, more self-centered...but then my feelings started to change again! Things got really sexy and murky, and just plain weirdly creepy. By the end of this book - which is a freaking cliffhanger! - I didn't know what to make of the whole thing. I didn't know whose side I was on, if I was even on a side. Who was good, who was bad, or how I felt about any of the characters. In a way, I kind of feel like Hilary felt when she first started giving in to the "lessons" or "counseling" or whatever you want to call them - thoroughly satisfied, but wanting more, and kinda feeling dirty about it.

If I had to use one word to describe Balustrade, it would be "bewitching"...I was literarily seduced...the pacing was sublime...like foreplay...then fucked senseless...and then discarded like a piece of meat - the wrong meat.

Uncensored thoughts straight from my Kindle:
  •  The cubed building with knobless doors made me think of the movie Cube.
  • It protruded from the wall like a panic switch, in case of fire push this and fuck. - LMAO! One of the funny lines/moments from the book. There's a bunch of em hidden throughout; think of them as Easter eggs.

If you're into dark stories, and/or erotic scenes, I strongly recommend this book. It will blow your mind. And please have something or someone nearby to scratch the itch you're going to get while reading this.

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