Last week the first episode of The Pageist podcast aired and I reviewed The Marketplace by Laura Antoniou. (I also read a very hot scene from the book.)
If you prefer your book reviews in a written rather than spoken format, the Wednesday after the show airs I’ll post a written version of the review from the previous episode.
Without further ado: The Marketplace.
Have you ever read a book and then looked at the series that followed, saw there were six other books (plus one collection of fanfiction) and thought, ‘That won’t be enough’? Because that won’t be enough.
The marketplace is an international slave market where interested Masters and Mistresses and other types of people, I presume, purchase people who willingly choose to become slaves. This spoke to me immediately. Something about BDSM-based erotica that’s never impressed has been all the forced submission. It makes me think, ‘Find someone who wants to be there a little? I’d want to be there.’
So. People who want to be slaves are sent to houses in various places around the world to be trained and then sold. Different buyers want different qualities and talents so slaves have to been trained to be useful in a variety of ways, but they must all learn to take a beating and they must all be adept sexually.
The Marketplace (the book, not the overall entity) introduces us to Alexandra and Grendel, the people who run the particular house in the novel.
Their majordomo is Chris Parker, the most enigmatic of the bunch. He’s above the slaves but beneath the owners of the house and responsible for the slaves learning their roles properly. He knows his way around a strap or just about anything else that can be swung with great force.
The slaves. Oh, how I enjoy them.
First we have Claudia, who cries so much she should be sponsored by Kleenex. She’s a French maid who’s been sent because her Mistress finds her utter perfection boring. She’s also a little…limited…in certain areas. She’s going to be trained by Alex.
Then there’s Robert. Robert is a strapping stud of a man who has been emasculated by a sadist (the bad kind) of a woman and now has to be turned back into a man with a working cock before he’ll be any good to anyone. Another one for Alex. Robert cries a lot, too. She really got the sniffles twins this time round. They both want to do their absolute best, though, which is more than I can say for the two Grendel got.
Brian and Sharon. It’s rare that I want to throttle a fictional character, but I found myself having conversations with Sharon in my head. She was real. And really annoying.
Sharon’s read a lot of dirty books, see? (Not any other sort of books, but just loads of the dirty ones.) So she knows exactly what she wants. She’s had quote-unquote masters who only wanted to boss her around on the weekends but she wanted to be really controlled. But, you know, only the way she wants to be controlled.
Sharon also has this condition where she’s incapable of respecting the people who have the ability to whip her black and blue. It’s weird.
Bit of a digression, but if you’ll allow me: There’s this proverb that goes: A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool from his own. I used to think, ‘Then what’s a person who doesn’t learn from their own mistakes?’
Now I know. They’re Sharon from The Marketplace.
Anyway, the other star is Brian. He’s sort of a mostly-gay male version of Sharon but more self aware and smarter. He’s also better at keeping his mouth shut. Buncha winners, this lot.
The four of them are evaluated and trained in various ways and in the evenings they tell one another their life stories.
The Marketplace is very well-written and inventive. The characters are three-dimensional and well-drawn. The narrative switches between each person’s point of view and she each one has their own voice—Antoniou has a gift for human psychology. She also has a gift for writing shit-hot sex scenes. Fuck.
I super duper highly recommend this one. If you haven’t read it, do so. If you have read it and it’s been awhile maybe give it another look.
I started the next one immediately, which is The Slave.
I must say, though, the internet failed me—there was no ‘Which Marketplace Character Are You’ quiz. Incredible considering there’s probably a ‘Which Specific Dumbledore Ear Hair Are You?’ quiz.