Review: The Experiment by Stacey Zackerly

Review: The Experiment by Stacey ZackerlyThe Experiment by Stacey Zackerly
Pages: 78
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four-stars

When a young man's father is involved in an investment scandal, after years of squandering away the family fortune, it appears that prison and complete ruin are ahead for the family until the young man is offered a unique opportunity to solve the problem. The mysterious Sir Reginald Carurthers, a man feared and mistrusted by all, would be willing to wipe out the debts of his father if the young man would agree to become a test subject in a socking experiment that would attempt to reverse the work of nature and cause the man to become a woman. Seeing no other way to save his father the lad agrees and begins the lengthy process of physically becoming female as well as being trained to behave as a proper lady in Victorian society.

Drawing inspiration from works like Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and classic Gothic romances "The Experiment" is a tale of forced feminization in a 19th century context and an examination of one young man's journey into womanhood at a time when women had virtually no rights and a very clear definition of what was expected of them. Adopting the name Lucinda Davenport the boy is groomed to become the wife of some respectable gentleman someday but soon discovers that even in a closed-minded society a woman can often manipulate things to her own will and desires...as long as she lets a man think that it's really his idea.

Mixing elements of science fiction and historical social commentary Stacey Zackerly also adds a dash of classic romance and her signature flair for steamy eroticism in a new tale of gender transformation and self-discovery.

The story contains explicit adult language and graphic depictions of sexual situations. (Approximately 28,000 words.)

It’s always nice to see an author working in the transgender erotica scene shake things up and try something new. It’s even better when the author is as good and prolific as Stacey Zackerly. By her own admission, she borrows heavily from Gothic romance novels like Frankenstein to tell a story that is not altogether unfamiliar, but is so steeped in its setting and time period that it feels unique and fresh.

Our narrator is sold into servitude to Sir Reginald Caruthers in an effort to restore the young man’s family name and resolve debts incurred by his father. Caruthers is an enigmatic figure, a scientist whose work has been the cause of some concern to his peers for his willingness to fly in the face of convention. Unbeknownst to our hero, he is to be the subject of Caruthers’ latest experiment. if you’re reading this, you know that experiment is going to result in the young man transformed into a young woman.

In this story, Zackerly does not spend an inordinate amount of time on the transformation, instead preferring to focus on the life of Lucinda, the young woman who results from Caruthers’ experimentation. Lucinda must learn her new role as a woman, but further has to navigate the mores of 19th century attitudes.

Though not without scenes of erotic natures, The Experiment is much more about understanding the expectations of womanhood and the true nature of women than it is about displaying Lucinda as a sexual object. She is most certainly a sexual entity, but her perception of her former male impulses and those of her new body make for an interesting discussion about the double standard that existed then and persists today.

The final point to be made about The Experiment is how much a romance it truly is. Sure, there are scenes that involve depictions of sex in various forms, but Lucinda’s “womanly heart” is the focus of this story, and it is the better for it.

My only complaint is that, despite the well-told tale, there is something breezy about the read that keeps it from becoming an instant classic, but that is a minor quibble when so much of the work is so very good.

If you’re looking for a read that is focused more on the heart than the pelvis, I can’t recommend The Experiment enough. It is well-considered and thoughtful, and raises its own questions that society has yet to answer. A delight!

four-stars

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