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Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witch, Beast, Saint” by C.S.E. Cooney

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

C.S.E. Cooney

C.S.E. Cooney

Erotic fiction makes me blush. You know how some people have to cover their eyes when watching horror movies? I’m like that with erotic fiction. When C.S.E. Cooney submitted short stories to Black Gate, I had to peek between my fingers to read them. We published two, “Godmother Lizard” and “Life on the Sun,” (which Tangent Online called “bold and powerful… on a scale of 1 to 10, I rank this one as a twelve”), and I had to look the other way while editing them.

Fortuantely, there are readers braver than I. Over at, Amal El-Mohtar has reviewed C.S.E’s new story, “Witch, Beast, Saint: an Erotic Fairy Tale,” saying in part:

Absolutely no one writes fairy tales like Cooney…what Cooney does is make you feel as if you’re a citizen of fairy tale space, inhabiting the lands and experiencing the stories adjacent to those better-known: Cinderella might be a few towns over, but she doesn’t matter here. Cooney writes new fairy tales with a vigour and velocity that make me remember how I felt on first discovering The Snow Queen in a book too big for my lap…

A witch discovers a beast dying in a forest, and takes him home to keep. She can tell right away that he was once a man; she washes and revives him, feeds him, takes care of him, and they become companionable. Soon they become rather more than that; not long afterwards, the arrival of an itinerant saint troubles their romance…

It was shockingly delightful to me to see such a beautiful depiction of enthusiastic consent, kink, and polyamory in a fairy tale setting — no technical terms, no rhetoric, just the cheerful twining of compatible desires in a magical world.

C.S.E. Cooney is a past website editor of Black Gate, and the author of How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes and Jack o’ the Hills. “Witch, Beast, Saint” was published at Strange Horizons; read the complete story here. And read Mark’s recent interview with C.S.E. Cooney here.


  1. JOHN!!! I never wrote erotic ANYTHING till February of THIS YEAR!!! I never submitted slurpable fiction to you, dude. Just straight up secondary world swashbuckling stuff! Impossible man!

    Or… Not a man at all! Robot Overlord!!!

    Thank you so dearly for the signal boost, even if you take hyperbole past art form and into NEW RELIGION.

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - November 1, 2014 8:11 pm

  2. Well. I remember the original version of “Godmother Lizard” being pretty steamy. I had to have a bit of a lie down after reading it.

    The published version was more toned down, yes. But I would still call “Godmother Lizard” borderline erotic horror, for the pretty disturbing themes at the climax.

    At least, for a delicate flower such as myself. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Keep on conquering the entire Internet, Ms. Cooney! We shall watch in awe, as always.

    See you next week in Washington?

    Comment by John ONeill - November 1, 2014 8:54 pm

  3. I cannot WAIT to see you again in DC! Want to have breakfast with Sharon Shinn and me on Saturday morning at 9 AM?

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - November 1, 2014 9:04 pm

  4. Absolutely! Will you be there Friday night?

    Comment by John ONeill - November 1, 2014 11:42 pm

  5. Yup! Arriving Friday afternoon!

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - November 2, 2014 6:41 am

  6. […] Cooney news! Just last month, we reported on Amal El-Mohtar’s review of her short story “Witch, Beast, Saint,” and our roving reporter Mark Rigney interviewed her in late October. The two C.S.E. Cooney […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » C. S. E. Cooney Joins Uncanny Magazine as a Podcast Reader - December 16, 2014 2:32 pm

  7. […] Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witch, Beast, Saint” by C.S.E. Cooney […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in November - December 27, 2014 1:17 pm

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