Monster girls. You either like them or you're not reading this review.
I like the idea of monster girls.
Let's get deep into monster girl analysis. What if I write an analysis about the use of monster girls? I haven't done that and it seems fun/insane, so read on if you want a treatise on this topic later.
Annabelle Hawthorne is a newcomer to SOL, and when I found this story I was intrigued by the novelty of the tagline as well as the plethora of tags--surely a considerable number considering the medium-ish length of it. A few hours later, I found myself reaching for the sequel without realizing how much time had passed. To say that I have high hopes for the future of this author and series based on the first book would be accurate and perhaps even an understatement.
What to talk about first? At a technical level there's very little to complain about, so I won't spend time here.
The sex scenes? They're hot. Really hot, to be frank. They're creative to an impressive degree. They bring out the personalities of the characters. They aren't repetitive or overpowering in number. In this reviewer's humble opinion, it would be extremely difficult to improve upon this aspect of the story.
I want to talk about the characters. I always talk about characters. The problem here is that I can't really talk about the characters in detail or else I'm liable to accidentally spoil something. The characters are good and make me want to keep reading.
Now that the normal review is more or less complete, let's talk about monster girls in erotica. What's good about them? In short: nothing. There is nothing particularly great about monster girls on their own. What CAN be good about monster girls, when they are written properly, is that they add what I would describe as "additional bait" to the hook of a story. If I were to break this down further:
* story: a sequence of described events from A to B
* hook: attaches to the reader's brain and makes the reader want to progress from A to B
* bait: distracts the reader from the hook
* additional bait: distracts the reader from other bait
In the context of pornographic movies, the hook is sex and the bait is the sex act / fetish (e.g., blowjob, anal, feet, anal foot blowjob, ...). As one consumes more and more porn, typically one craves for something new to be added in order to yield continued satisfaction and avoid boredom. I would refer to this as 'additional bait'--the thing that distracts from the fact that similar porn has been viewed previously. The limits of 'additional bait' in porn are [what the actors can/will do] and [what budget is available for the production]. This naturally limits the playing field of all porn, as there are some things which no actors can/will do, and there are budget requirements for some types of proposed productions which will never be reached.
In the context of erotic literature, the hook is sex and the bait is whoever the main character is going to have sex with (or a new method of having sex with the same person). The 'additional bait' here is the twist which makes it different from any other series with the same plot. Unlike in porn, however, there are no limits for 'additional bait' in erotica. In this medium the author has a much more difficult task in setting themselves apart within the playing field. This is where the idea of monster girls, which I have professed myself to be in favor of, comes in handy.
Consider the following two potential story taglines:
1) Mike inherits an old house from a long lost relative full of fuckable maids.
2) Mike inherits an old house from a long lost relative full of fuckable monster girls.
As they pertain to "Home for Horny Monsters", both of these taglines are functionally identical and either one could be used to more-or-less accurately describe the series. Which one is more enticing to a prospective reader, however? In both cases the bait is "fuckable girls".
In #1, the 'additional bait' is "maids". If I think about maids, this mostly appeals to various clothing fetishes or some BDSM aspects: a maid in erotica is a regular person who has a specific job and likely wears some variation on the classic sexy french maid outfit. My interest level is based on [how well can the author portray these characters?] and [how interesting are the personalities of these characters?].
In #2, the 'additional bait' is "monster girls". Keeping in mind that this is fiction and literature, where anything is possible depending on the skills of the author, this is a complete unknown. If I read this, what am I going to experience? Will this guy be fucking a vampire (StarCrawler's 'A Halloween Redemption)? Will he be fucking a giant snake (Novus Animus's "Medusa: Fate's Game")? Am I going to see some dude try to fuck a dragon (Dragon Cobolt's "Scales Like Stars")? How about werewolves (Mike Cropo's "Time of Eden and Elves")? His computer (Any Pseudonym's "Life With Alpha")??? My interest level is based on the same things as #1 with the additional item of e.g., [what the actual fuck how/why is this guy putting his dick in a giant spider?].
My point isn't that I think the tagline without monster girls is boring (I will review the best "maid" story out of all the recommendations I get from haters of this review), it's that if I see two stories with similar descriptions then the tagline with the "unknown" aspect is more interesting. Monster girls can provide this, and so I like it as a writing device. In the hands of a bad writer, monster girls are no different from non-monster girls, which is why I have said that I like the idea and not the unconditional usage of monster girls. Don't waste them, they're a precious resource.
Annabelle Hawthorne makes a strong case for stories containing monster girls in this 'Home for Horny Monsters' series, to the point of provoking this unnecessarily long exposition. This first book provides what feels like only an introduction to the story and its characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing both of these things continue to grow with future installments. If you enjoy stories with a focus on plot development and a taste of the unknown, I expect that you'll enjoy Annabelle Hawthorne's work as thoroughly as I have.