Once upon a time, Jennifer Bene wrote a demented little story called Baptism in Eden, for an anthology called Twisted Sacraments. That lovely little anthology was full of all kinds of seriously fucked up stories. And now you can’t get it anymore, which is sad if you don’t have it, but fear not lovely and loyal readers, the rights have reverted back to the authors and now the stories are being put back out for you to read. Some of them, like Reign of Ruin, have new stuff added to them, so you know that you have to go read them now, right?
There is not a lot of happy in this story, unless you’re a man, then you get to have some happy. There’s a fuckload of dark, pain, and misery. And just to top it off, there’s some more pain, dark, and misery. This is dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and out Handmaid’s Tale the Handmaid’s Tale. And Jennifer took demented and turned it into fucking twisted. And damn, if I wasn’t glued to every word of the book.
It is the story of Danielle and what happened after the world lit on fire and went to hell in a handbasket. There is a prequel to the story in the back of the book, so you can read that first, if you want, just to get a little more information about the world and Danielle, and what happened, or read it after. I just recommend that you read it at some point.
Six years ago, the world caught fire and the religious extremists caught religion. And as happens, women got blamed. Now, Danielle, along with who knows how many other women, serve in Eden. And serving in Eden isn’t nice. You aren’t someone who cherished, you are just meat. When you get too injured, you get baptized, which heals you, so you never get to escape into death, you just keep wishing that you would die.
The first time I read this story, it sent chills up and down my spine. Then I read the prequel, and that fucking terrified me, because so much of it could happen right here and now. Then reading the full RoR? Fuck me. I had to go find a light MM story full of laughs just to get to another level in my head, because yeah, it got to me that bad. I’ve often said that The Handmaid’s Tale is hands down my scariest book ever, because it could happen, well, this one pretty much beats it.
I hope that Jennifer writes more stories in this world, because I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
There are no spoilers, and if you don’t like horror, this is one you should probably stay away from. Other than that, go check it out, and happy reading!