Review: Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders

Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders
Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders by Cornelia Grey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I like this author and she’s done some really incredible short stories, however, this one is just straight up weird. It’s not so much that I personally don’t have a gun fetish, because I can read a great number of stories where I don’t share the particular proclivity, but more so that the characters, behavior, and more so the writing were just overwrought and uninteresting. The gun kink is of course the theme but it’s the only aspect to the entire story. There is literally nothing else to the draw the reader’s attention. If someone has a deep and abiding love of the depiction of a gun fetish, perhaps this will be a hit with them. Otherwise I can’t really see whom this will appeal to, but ymmv.

Benjamin Pepperwhistle of the truly inspired naming has a serious gun kink. He loves everything about guns and talked his way into a job with the circus so he can be an assistant to the famous pistoleer, Cole Beauchamp. After a week of learning how to shoot Benjamin and Cole have their first show, which cements their mutual desire for guns, getting shot at, and each other.

I struggled with this one from the very beginning, as the language used often didn’t do much for me.

Benjamin could smell the telltale scent of burned power, the sizzling leftover of the detonation. It called to him like the raspy, enchanting voice of a fiery-haired siren. He tiptoed around the tent until he found an opening where the flap closing the entrance had been carelessly lowered, leaving a convenient crack. He didn’t even think twice before bringing his eye to it—didn’t even take the time to look around, the greed making him careless—and he was instantly rewarded. There it was, filling the tent, seeping slowly outside: the smell of burnt powder. Benjamin inhaled deeply. He loved the smell of inert powder, but this… this was what he preferred, the scent that made his blood pump faster, his body heat up.
It took him a conscious effort to turn his focus on watching, instead.

This paragraph early on stood out to me because I remember thinking I had no idea what was going on and why this guy was in rhapsody. I didn’t realize he was in love with the scent of gunpowder at first. Then when I did, I was just bewildered. Perhaps I should have realized this book was about a gun kink and wouldn’t have been so confused so I’ll put that problem as my ignorance. Even so there is so much overwrought emotion and poetic waxing about guns, their beauty, their smell, and touch that I was just bored. Nothing really happens in the story except Benjamin’s internal monologues about wanting to have sex because of guns.

Literally nothing else happens. The story mentions that Benjamin spent a week practicing how to shoot but honestly this was a mere statement and the remaining time was spent on Benjamin staring into space while fantasizing about having sex with Cole, having sex with Cole while shooting guns, shooting off his dick (metaphorically) while shooting off guns. The entire narration felt over the top, melodramatic and kind of silly. Then the idea that a blushing, bumbling Benjamin that can barely speak two words without tripping over himself and has a page long internal freak out about his humiliation that he can’t shoot a gun (an admission that in no way warrants the extreme and extended overreaction) has an orgasm and then turns into some kind of dominating force over the much older, much more experienced Cole just had me laughing out loud at the absurdity. It wasn’t even sexy, just kind of unbelievable.

Perhaps this could be chalked up as a story not for me. I just wish the premise had offered something in addition to the gun kink. Some action, some storyline, something other than page after page of poetic language to describe the eroticism of guns and Benjamin’s constant boner because of them. He likes guns. I get it. If you like guns perhaps you’ll get it too.

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