The Spider Queen Collection by Sarah Hawke is a group of short stories set in a fantasy world that features the Drow from Dungeons and Dragons campaign with the serial numbers only partially filed off. if you are unfamiliar with the Drow, all you need to know is that they are sexy pervert elves who live deep underground and hate the surface elves. They worship a Spider Goddess who enforces a cruel matriarchy on the Drow. If you are a male, you are considered next to worthless, fit only to serve as a soldier or servant. If you are a woman, you are considered to be superior but the Spider Goddess demands competition so any sign of weakness is exploited by your female rivals. It is a cut-throat environment where someone is always being tormented by someone, so they might as well torment the person below them in social status.
The main character is a Drow Priestess who is assigned to a remote backwater outpost and is bored from tormenting her male soldiers. Luckily, her soldiers capture a human man and his half-elf girlfriend. The Drow Priestess quickly introduces them to kinky sex, domination, humiliation and bondage. So far, pretty typical for a fantasy sex novel.
Where things get interesting is the second story takes place much later. Now the surface slaves are willing participants in their debasement and are accomplices to the Drow Priestess’ schemes. The third story skips ahead to the Drow Priestess living back in the main Drow city, breaking in new slaves while her old slaves continue to mature as devious hench people. The final story skips ahead again to plot climax where the Drow Priestess’ schemes begin to unwind.
I greatly enjoyed this skipping of time. A lot of long BDSM novels tread the same ground. You have the scenes where the slaves debate their inner nature. You have the multiple scenes where they resist and then are finally broken. You have the long boring discussions of kinky philosophy. Every BDSM book has these bits and the author happily skips past them. Each story feels like the condensed good part out of a typical novel.
The sex is well written. The use of magic is creative instead of merely providing magical recreations of modern sex toys. The ruthless Drow culture is fun to see and the rather willing nature of the slaves takes the edge off of what could have been a much darker story.
All in all, I really enjoyed this series. It feels like the summer popcorn version of other BDSM novels. It is good, cruel fun at the expense of just about every character. I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.