Overture: A Meeting of Fate by S.L. Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overture is episode 1 of the new serial Immortal Symphony by K Piet and SL Armstrong. The story is a twist on the classic Dorian Gray tale and definitely explores the sexual side. Dorian never ages, but instead the portrait of him ages. Over the centuries Dorian has indulged in base pleasures to banish the tedium of his life. Using the sexual power he has over others is the best drug he’s ever experienced. Dorian’s interest is piqued by an American named Gabriel and two chance meetings lead to a possible future.
The first episode is nicely independent and sets up the main players of the story. There’s Dorian, who has apparently given up the ability to love and connect for everlasting beauty and immortality. Opposite the protagonist is Gabriel, the wide-eyed not so innocent chasing supernatural phenomenon all over the world, and his dead twin brother in astral form, Michael. Michael seems to exist mostly as a voice always accompanying Gabriel. Gabriel and Dorian meet and have wild sex that ends with an offer for Gabriel to live as Dorian’s well-paid plaything. Gabriel is so taken with Dorian, he wants to accept the offer regardless of some very obvious, very real red flags.
Starting things off with a bang, literally, the story doesn’t shy away from the erotic nature of Dorian’s personality. There is a lot of sex in such a quick novella/short story and it highlights Dorian’s debauchery. He’s indiscriminate about partners, male or female, he’d probably fuck anything with a hole so there is m/m, m/f, f/m/m sex. Just about any combination you can make will likely show up in this series. So I’d say the story is definitely erotic but it has a plot and purpose. The sex doesn’t feel gratuitous but more so proving a point about Dorian’s character and needs.
The main three men are just sketches at best instead of fully fleshed out characters but that’s to be expected. I didn’t particularly mind and there are more than enough hints about the past to intrigue me about these men. I especially appreciated the scenes showing Gabriel’s supernatural work, though I felt the church scene ended too abruptly and without closure. What happened there? Instead the story picks up several weeks after with a brief non-explanation. If this aspect is so important that it’s added in a novella where space is already limited, why did it stop mid-scene? I was left confused about what to think and how important a role this job will play.
On the plus side, however, the writing is very engaging. It’s punchy and direct, not beating around the bush but almost in your face with its drama and eroticism. The authors aren’t trying to hide or allude to anything, the story is upfront and almost brutal at times. It makes me very curious about future episodes and how much they’ll hinge on the sexual aspect. I wonder how Gabriel and Dorian will interact and how their relationship will differ from the faceless, nameless throngs of “pets” that Dorian has gone through.
As a first episode, it’s captured my attention and made me eager to read future installments. This is likely to appeal to those edgier readers who don’t mind a lot of sex of any kind and aren’t necessarily looking for a true love, happy ending match. It may happen but I don’t really see it.