I downloaded "Incall With a Succubus" mostly on the strength of the title and the horror code. I hadn’t read anything by Many-Eyed-Hydra previous to this. Confronted with the extremely brief synopsis and story codes, I’ll say that I entered this story expecting something different than what the author delivered. Horror is a visceral word with implications of a dark, anxious, and dreadful experience. At the risk of spoiling the story, there is none of that to be found here. For me it read as something closer to a romance in tone and feeling, and thankfully the surprise turned out to be quite enjoyable. That's fortunate because I was very much looking forward to being uncomfortable and frightened by a well told horror story.
Jack Newman is a government official who lost his wife some years previously to cancer and has been living an isolated, lonely life ever since. He’s a fine character and well crafted, from his name, a “new man” being what he’ll hopefully become, all the way to his pragmatic philosophy which is summed up early on when he tells us, “People don't need dreams and idealism; they need to be given the means to improve their own lives.” As the wise so often counsel the rest of us, however, dreams and idealism are what drives humanity to improve, and Jack is going on a journey of self-improvement through the clever device of a dream made real: A genuine Succubus named Nicole.
Nicole is wonderfully written as the demonic prostitute with a heart of gold, an over the top cliché if there ever was one…Or so I would think if someone suggested the idea over drinks. The author is more than able to turn Nicole into something much more than just a new twist on an old tale, however, and I found her to be completely engaging and enjoyable. The physical descriptions of Nicole and especially her sexual liaison with Jack were well done and imaginative. But as always, it’s the characters’ motivations and interactions that have to sell them to us as “real” people and in this story the character development was well done throughout.
The sex is nicely descriptive, but most interesting for me was the justification and motivation of a demoness for working as an escort in the first place. It's a fun idea and I enjoyed the author's rationale as Nicole expresses it. As to the story's strokability, I'm probably the wrong person to ask for an opinion, but yeah, it was hot, graphic without being vulgar, and that's a fine balance I can certainly appreciate.
The only place I had trouble with the story was the quick flashback that happens very early on, while Jack is working up the courage to ring Nicole’s doorbell. The story jumps backward to a recent past in order to explain how Jack ended up on an escort’s doorstep in the first place. Overall, it’s a good scene and intended to set up the meeting with Nicole and inform us about Jack’s character. But it seemed incongruous where it was placed. I was just a bit unsure at first as to where I was in the story and if I have a suggestion to offer the author, it would be to look at simply moving that section to the very beginning. Keep the story linear throughout and avoid the unnecessary flashback.
That’s a relatively small complaint and truthfully it’s the only one I have about the story itself. My other criticisms are that the synopsis should be a little more verbose, a bit more imaginative as the story itself is; and the story codes…I think horror is the wrong one, quite frankly. I believe it gives the wrong impression and doesn't help readers who are actually looking for this sort of story to find it. A fantasy code would probably be more apt and I’d dare to say, despite Nicole’s arguments to the contrary, that a romance code wouldn’t be off target here, because it is an underlying theme and the main character arc is that Jack is reawakened to the possibility of romance and human intimacy at the conclusion of the story.
In summary, Many-Eyed-Hydra has provided us with a fine piece of erotica and one that came as a pleasant and unexpected surprise for me, and therein lies my dilemma. I can't recommend this story to anyone if they're looking for chills and thrills and Halloween horror; on the other hand, I would dearly love to tell everyone looking for fantasy romance to take a look at this piece and perhaps find the same pleasure that I have. Whether you’re into the supernatural or not, at it’s heart "Incall With a Succubus" is a warmly humanist story and a very rewarding read. I just wish the author had told us that beforehand.