Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl – book review by Fred Patten
by Dogpatch Press Staff
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Joseph Chou.
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, January 2017, trade paperback $16.99 ([4 +] 411 pages).
The seven deadly sins are Lust, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Pride. This anthology presents 27 stories divided into those seven deadly sins. Each sin is introduced by an Interlude by Thurston Howl in which three punk youths, Derek (German shepherd), Zinc (tiger), and Barba (horse), tell stories about those sins in a ruined church. They suspect that one of them is a demon…
An advisory usually fits an entire book, but the stories in this anthology are so widespread from G to NSFW that I’ve put my own advisory on each story.
In “Don’t Judge Me” by Sisco Polaris (Lust), an unnamed human man goes to a mixed human-animal gym, steamhouse, and sauna that is a gay hookup spot. He spends an evening playing enthusiastic submissive slut to the male dom anthro-menagerie that passes through, to get into the mood to go home and do his sexual duty to his wife. Very NSFW.
“Down in the Valley” by Billy Leigh (Lust) is narrated by Ralph Walter Travers, a Fennec British civil servant posted in Kenya at the beginning of World War II. He is invited to a dinner party of upper-class Collies, Foxes, Cougars, and others that turns out to be a wildly degenerate orgy, with excesses of drink and sex. There is a death. The police investigate. To tell what happens would give away a spoiler. PG for the orgy and some mild gay romance in a British early-1940s setting.
In “Click” by T. Thomas Abernathy (Lust), Jack is a suppressed human supremacist working with anthro animals. He has a job at a bank, but his wife gets pregnant, so he has to take a second job moving boxes at a warehouse to support the coming baby. He can’t have any more sex with his wife, so he fantasizes about a doe co-worker at the warehouse. His lust for “just an animal” betrays him. A mild R.
In “Fun at the Mall” by Teiran (Lust), “Wildfire” Fox is unabashedly gay, shopping for every sex toy at Yiff R Us at the mall. When he meets a smug wolf who sneers at “faggots” in the mall’s restroom, he teaches him a well-deserved lesson. Even a reader who isn’t gay will be satisfied at this sneering “superior’s” comeuppance. R.
“Bones” by Searska GreyRaven (Wrath) is told from the viewpoint of a husky belonging to a Lady who encourages him to Change partway to human, Changing her partway to a dog, so they can romp together. When a Bad Man forces himself on her and tries to make her get rid of the dog, she has him Change all the way to human to solve their problem. This is such a mild horror story that I’ll rate it G. Or PG, for those who think that any story more mature than second-grade level should be PG.
“Those Three Letters” by Rayah James (Wrath) are HIV. When Orion (wolf) learns that he has HIV, he’s sure he knows who gave it to him. He’ll get revenge… That’s it? This story ends before it’s really gotten started. G (or PG for implied violence).
“For the Sins of the Father” by Sisco Polaris (Wrath) is narrated by Forrin, a wolf who is passed over for a job he deserves because he’s openly gay. He’s angry, and he decides the best way to get revenge is to seduce his lion boss’ son. Things don’t turn out as he’d planned. (Well, he’d be the first to admit that he hadn’t been thinking.) This is also NSFW, but I liked it much better than “Don’t Judge Me” because it has a real beginning, middle, and end rather than being just a sweaty, sticky mood piece; and for showing intelligence once he cools down.
“I Burned the Bridges to Heaven” by Weasel (Wrath) is about Derrick (raccoon) who is in a very abusive relationship with Andre (wolf). But what it’s about is not nearly as important as how it’s written; very poetically. PG.
“The Collection” by T. Thomas Abernathy (Greed) is narrated by Coop, a tiger, but what’s important is neither his name nor his species. It’s his mania for collecting. The collector has to collect. He has to have the biggest collection; better than anyone else’s. What does he collect? Is it important? G.
“Stay” by Hypetaph (Greed) is about Cecil, her son Kal (Himalayan wolves), and Kal’s girlfriend Claire (panther). Kal is going away to college and Claire is helping him to pack. Cecil is an overprotective mother who doesn’t want her baby to leave home. How badly does she want to keep him there? Since Seven Deadly Sins is promoted as a horror anthology, “how badly” is pretty obvious. PG verging on R.
In “The Beauty Regime” by Evelyn Proctor (Envy), a nameless lynx goes through numerous self-mutilations to be as beautiful as the fashion magazines say and show what True Beauty looks like. This could be a funny-animal story, but Proctor keeps it furry by constant usage of the lynx’s fur and body shape. Gruesome, but how many real human women have hospitalized or killed themselves in their obsession to be Beautiful? PG.
“Richard Cory” by Tristan Black Wolf (Envy) is more about the narrator, Matheson Knox (rat), than about Cory (tiger), his roommate. “Somewhere, the Great Brain of the university must have thought it amusing to pair up a senior with a sophomore, or a feline with a rodent, or a jock with a nerd.” (p. 167) “He had it all, and he had it so easy. Rich family and private schools; picked for the college b-ball team in his freshman year, not a star, but a solid player; enough brains to get by, at the very least; a perfect body, perfect smile, perfect everything, and all the sex he could want.” (p. 170) Envy, for sure. So what happens to Knox and Cory? I’ll just say that this is the best story in the anthology, in so many ways that it would take too long to list them all. “Richard Cory” is worth the price of Seven Deadly Sins by itself. Read it! PG.
“Lucy” by Dax (Envy) is about an insane tigress who imagines herself to be the wife of a happily married tiger. She plots to get rid of his real wife so she can take her place. This plot is reminiscent of too many real news stories about obsessive fans, which emphasize the funny-animal nature of the story. PG.
In “Devil’s Snare” by Faolan (Envy), Savani is a beautiful black wolf in body but with unruly hair. She is envious of Amber, a vixen with perfect looks in every respect. Savani attempts to use black magic to steal Amber’s hair. The reader can guess that something will go wrong. PG.
“Black Fur” by Gullwolf (Envy) differs in detail, but it is the same plot as “Devil’s Snare”. Cherize, a jackal, is envious of Luciana, a red-furred vixen. “But when Luciana walked into the coffee shop after the fitful few weeks that Cherize had spent waiting for her, Cherize realized that this fox was the definition of perfect.” (p. 214) PG.
In “Repository” by Hypetaph (Sloth), Parks, a German Shepherd, is in bed with his lover, Simon, a coyote. At length. Reading this made me think of the nursery rhyme, “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out; the worms play pinochle on your snout”. It’s a grisly mood piece. PG.
“The Bear Necessities” by Bill Kieffer (Sloth) features Ferdinand, a black bear; Prince, a raccoon (they’re married); and Sladek, a skinny tiger and their familiar. Ferdy, a Tantric magician, discovers a dimensional portal to our Earth; a world of hairless monkeys, unevolved animals, and LOTS of untapped Tantric energy.
“The monkeys were civilized enough to have brothels. More than one of these had bear skin rugs in them. Because the portal had been open for so long, it was easy for Prince to get a fix on a suitable item to copy. The two magic users made a rotisserie out of the tiger, creating a conduit that allowed them to copy and connect with the dead thing on the other side. Even as the bear came into his mouth and triggered the spell. Sladek could feel the bear flattening.
It had worked well.
Perhaps, too well.
Before Prince had even finished on his end, the magical energies had come roaring through the connection to the bear in an overpowering onslaught. They’d not only tapped into any sex on a bear skin rug on the other side; but they’d connected with a tidal wave of power.” (p. 248)
Ferdy remains a conscious bear skin rug. How Prince and Sladek are affected, and what they do about it, is the story. I give it an A+ for imagination. R.
“Relations” by TJ Minde (Sloth) features Aaron (mongoose) and Justin (rabbit) who have been open homosexual lovers for the last five years. Aaron’s sister Shelly thinks that Justin is shallow; Aaron can do better for himself. Aaron wonders if he really loves Justin, or if it’s just too easy to continue their existing relationship. R.
“A Voice Not Spoken” by Stephen Coghlan (Sloth) is about the predators in a predator-prey civilization gradually being persecuted, as seen by Smokey, a feline who doesn’t bother to protest the increasing indignities and dangers. I was reminded of Pastor Niemöller’s “First they came for the Socialists…” long before Coghlan rephrases it in furry terms. PG.
“Listmember Lost” by Banwynn (Suta) Oakshadow (Sloth) is a 15-page story in the form of an email from a fucked-up furry fan who becomes his fursona of Flare, a 7-foot-tall muscular tiger-man, and finds that it doesn’t help his psychological hangups at all. PG.
In “Victuals” by Dwale (Gluttony), Salma (Mau cat) runs a government-approved scrapyard. Adam (Saluki), a new inspector, introduces himself, to her dismay. What is Salma hiding? PG.
“Anthropophagy” by Zarpaulus (Gluttony) asks the old question: in a joint predator-prey civilization where the predators are forbidden to eat meat, will all the predators be willing to accept “meat substitutes”? “Another perk of being thought of as myth: those paranoid enough to actually look for us end up expecting someone completely different. We’re almost always thought of as either hulking half-feral brutes bloated with prey, or suave sexual predators who seduce you and devour you after making love. With these stereotypes, who would expect a petite little fennec?” (p. 307) I rate this R for its gory explicitness.
In “The Music on the Street” by NightEyes DaySpring (Pride), Shadow the wolf… no, I can’t give a summary without revealing too much. It’s a good story, though. PG.
In “Runaway” by Banwynn (Suta) Oakshadow (Pride), Drever (human) is driving from Pennsylvania to Atlanta when he picks up Ramble, a teen red fox morph hitchhiker. Ramble is the first morph he’s ever met. What’s it like to be a morph, and why is he running away? I certainly didn’t guess where “Runaway” was going! A strong PG or a mild R.
“Shelter” by Avin Telfer (Pride) is a classic example of a funny animal story. All the characters are called otters, but they could just as easily be humans. Todd is the captain on an underwater research station when nuclear war breaks out. Only the fact that they are underwater saves them. As the months pass, the rest of the research staff switch their efforts to survival, but Todd stubbornly continues his scientific research. PG.
“Drop Tower” by Varzen (Pride) features Daani Asrighelli, a goat reigning pop star, and Alexi Rosenbath, a vampire bat “Executive Accountant of Vertilaginous Projections” – her recording company’s assigned manager/keeper to her. Her delusions of “immutable musical brilliance” and her temper tantrums make Alexi’s job a nightmare. “‘Daani,’ he said, counting on his footclaws the thousands of dollars pissed away in lost recording time, thousands more burned in the wrath of Daani’s inferno.” (p. 370) But as the story progresses, you wonder which of them is the more prideful? “Pride goeth before a fall” – literally. PG.
In “Migration Season” by J. A. Noelle (Pride), Sophie, a snow leopard, and Breezy, a sparrow, are friends in school in Berrymount. When rivalry and hatred between Berrymount’s mammals and avians starts to tear Berrymount apart, will pride in their city or pride in their taxonomic classes prevail? PG.
The anthology concludes with a final Interlude by Thurston Howl that reminds us that all of the stories are supposed to be Horror.
27 stories. This is a long review, and it’s hardly a review at all; mostly just plot synopses. Well, all 27 stories are readable, from brilliant to mediocre at worst. My favorites, in the order they appear, are “Fun at the Mall” by Teiran, “For the Sins of the Father” by Sisco Polaris, “Richard Cory” by Tristan Black Wolf, “The Bear Necessities” by Bill Kieffer, “Listmember Lost” by Banwynn Oakshadow, “Anthropophagy” by Zarpaulus, and “Runaway” by Banwynn Oakshadow again. I’ve already said that “Richard Cory” is worth the price of Seven Deadly Sins (cover by Joseph Chou) by itself. Consider the others my personal roll of honor; and there are twenty more for your pleasure. Enjoy.
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