Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: speculative fiction, erotica, sexual politics
According to those who’d probably know, there are two kinds of erotica. There’s the sort designed to keep you squirming in your seat, a cavalcade of smut and heat between the pages. And then there are erotica works designed to make you think.
You might not know the name Krissy Kneen, but you should. Kneen is one of those writers who rips away the tropes of a genre to get to the very heart of its subject matter. Her works of erotica aren’t just a casual jaunt between the sheets; instead, they’re a vehicle through which readers can explore the heart of human wanting. It doesn’t always make for an easy read, but oftentimes, it’s the sort of story to leave you curled into place, thinking Deep Thoughts.
In ‘An Uncertain Grace’, Kneen’s focus is drawn towards sexual politics in an unflinching conversation around the rights and the wrongs of intimacy. The novel itself is a series of interwoven stories that revolve around the life of a visual storyteller, Liv, who has found a way to let audiences live out the stories she creates- or remembers.
Imagine being able to see your relationship from the other person’s perspective; of sharing a moment of innocent beauty with someone you care about. The wonder of connection, made more intimate. But technology evolves, always, and what was once a simple way of sharing emotional connection becomes a scientific research tool with questionable uses. And as the world, and her creation, changes around her, how can a storyteller find the heart of the story buried beneath all of the emotional debris?
This, of course, was never going to be a light hearted jaunt through Liv’s life. It can be hard to read about issues of consent and child abuse at the best of times, but Kneen has an ability to cut through the jargon and overused rhetoric to leave readers emotionally aware in a way they may not have been before. ‘An Uncertain Grace’ is a story, and a conversation, that deals with confronting topics, so if this is something you’re going to struggle with, it’s best to know before you start reading.
While there are certainly authors that use these topics for the interests of voyeurism and titillation, Kneen’s work isn’t controversial simply for controversy’s sake. Instead, she has crafted a tender, reasoned, and spellbinding conversation around humanity, and what it means to love, and desire.
‘An Uncertain Grace’ could have easily become a morality tale, where the characters acting outside of societal norms are punished for their sins. Instead, Kneen has taken the harder road, and has kept the morality for the reader to contemplate. This certainly isn’t the book to reach for if you’re after a few hours of mindless escapism. But if you’re willing to risk Deep Thoughts, and to contemplate taboos without the safety-rail of moral outrage, this is a wonderfully rich, thought-provoking work.
‘An Uncertain Grace’ is published by Text Publishing, and is available through selected retailers.