Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane! It’s an . . . unholy sex demon that’s obsessed with oral sex? Welcome to Thrift Store Finds, the series where I read the words in horror paperbacks and you read my words about them. Today we’re diving into the mind of one Edward Lee, and what did I find there? Giant donged incubi, because of course.

It’s the early 90s, and author Edward Lee is hitting his stride. After a stint in the army, a short-lived career as a cop, and a quick dip as an English major at the University of Maryland, Lee finally decided to leave it all behind to pursue his dream of becoming a horror novelist. And surprise! He found success. At the time of Incubi’s publication, Lee had three novels out in the world—two under the pseudonym Philip Straker—and 1988’s Ghouls, which even the author pretends was his first novel. 

It makes sense. It takes a writer a while to get his or her bearings, but after three novels, Lee had grounded himself, and he was ready to unleash his brand of gore/sex/insanity on the world to the tune of fifty novels and counting. And boy does he hit the ground running.

Incubi starts with a quick prologue to set the mood. A man and woman are about to get busy in the woman’s bedroom. “Don’t make me wait,” she tells him hungrily, touching her breasts, which Lee describes as “erect chiffon orbs.” But the mysterious man says she’s so beautiful that he wants to look at her for a while.

But, alas, this is a horror novel, and after agreeing to be tied to the bed, the mysterious man guts his partner and removes her organs while repeating the word “Aorista.”

So that’s the prologue.

A naked woman with blonde hair looks away while a monstrous hand reaches out to her on the illustrated cover of Edward Lee's "Incubi."

Across town Veronica and Jack are breaking up over a drink at their favorite watering hole. Jack is a thirty-three year old detective with a drinking problem, and Veronica is a fine artist on the rise. But it’s not the drinking or the art that’s causing the break up, it’s experience. You see Veronica believes that artists need to experience new things to become better at their craft, and just such an opportunity has fallen in her lap.

While hobnobbing at her most recent art show, Veronica made the acquaintance of a man named Khoronos who invited her to join him and a few guests for an “artist’s retreat” at his secluded estate.

Of course we all know “artist’s retreat” really means “extended sex party,” and that’s what Veronica’s friend Ginny is hoping for. She hasn’t been laid in two weeks, and, she confides to Veronica on their drive out of down, she has the “mushy” private parts to prove it (???). 

Meanwhile . . . 

Dumped, down, and out Jack wants nothing more than to drown his sorrows at the bottom of a bottle, but there’s no rest of the chemically dependent, because someone has found the dead woman from the prologue, and Jack’s been called to the graphic scene of the crime. It’s so gross that even hardened city cops are losing their lunch, and it’s easy to see why. Beyond the gutted body complete with, “ropes of entrails” that have been “reeled out of her sliced gut and adorned about the body like garlands,” the walls are also covered in symbols and sentences written in blood. And what’s right in the center? Why the word, “aorista,” of course.

Back in the lab, the technician has discovered some pretty peculiar stuff about the killer. And while I honestly don’t even want to get into it, that’s why we’re here, so let’s get it over with. It turns out the killer cums a lot (”Average ejaculation’s four to six milliliters . . . This guy left more than thirty hung up past the minus ridge”). But that’s not all. He also came so hard that the victim’s cervix exploded, which means that his penis is at least twelve inches long by the tech’s estimation.

Cool cool cool.

The most important discovery, however, is that the victim was willing. She constened to sex with the monster penis owner, and she consented to being tied up. Although the theory that she didn’t consent to being eviscerated still holds up.

Double meanwhile . . .

The hardcover for "Incubi" with a simple outline of an upside down cross on a pitch black background.
Simple, elegant, just what you think when you imagine sex demons.

Veronica and Ginny have made it to Khoronos’ estate and it’s pretty awesome. There are two young muscle men named Gilles and Marzen there to make them thirsty help them with their bags, a pool, and even a windowless room with mirrors on every surface. In fact, if Khoronos hadn’tt insisted on serving them sushi (the ultimate in 90s’ gross outs), it would be perfect.

Khorons tells them that during their stay his only request is that they make a work of art. But not just any work of art, this has to be something totally for themselves.

Veronica heads to bed where she’s visited by hunk #1, aka Marzen, who goes down on her while she awkwardly holds her legs up in the air. But just as she’s about to cum he leans back and tells her that she has to love herself before she can love someone else (hey Rupaul!), and instructs her to masturbate, which turns out to be surprisingly pleasurable. “Somehow this combination of sensations felt even better than Marzen’s oral ministrations.”

Shocking.

Things really take off when Jack gets a cute young research assistant (why she gotta be young and cute?) that uncovers that “aorista” refers to a ritual without end, and that the followers of the practice were into some really metal shit. Back in the middle ages these creeps would do everything from stealing priests’ vestments to performing beastiality on church alters.

First edition cover for "Incubi" with a silhouetted man holding fire in his hand.

But what really piques Jack’s interest is this group’s devotion to Baalzephon, an incubi who requires his followers to sacrifice young women in order to help him cross over into the real world to attain a human bride. 

Even though the murders happening present day perfectly match with their findings, no one at the department takes Jack seriously. The guy’s a recently dumped drunk, they reason, and instead of listening to anything Jack has to say, they put him on leave with orders to report to rehab at once.

While the murdered women continue to pile up in the morgue, Veronica is hard at work painting a creature who keeps appearing in her dreams. He looks like he’s made of fire, and when he touches her in the dream, she orgasms in real life, which sounds kinda nice, but also annoying. After all, who needs dream sex when you have hot guys wandering around asking you to masturbate in front of them all the time?

"Incubi" cover with an impressionist image of a demon painted in grays, reds, and browns.

Of course, life on Khoronos’ estate isn’t all about self pleasure, and after the men meats lure Veronica, Ginny, and another female guest upstairs one night, they once again flip the script and tell them they have to have lesbain threesome for reasons that are probably connected to Edward Lee’s fantasies. (Not shaming, just sayin’)

Things come to a head when Jack’s assistant catches up to the reader and makes a shocking discovery that just might link Khoronos to the murdered women. Jack speeds off into the night to find Veronica just in time for the climatic finish, which includes hand-to-hand combat, gun fire, face eating, naked women on alters, dicklessness, and a delightfully nihilist twist that lands the dismount.

I think as a good liberal woman I’m supposed to have at least a few negative options about how Lee weaves his erotic horror tale, but honestly upon eflection, I have to say I really freaking liked it. There are so many horror novels out there that pull punches, miss the point, or just go nowhere, that it’s really refreshing to read a horror story that goes there. Sure, Lee and I are different writers, and I would take a very different approach to writing female characters, but I can’t say that his creation isn’t completely entertaining.

“He’ll love you to death” might be the scariest thing ever, tbh.

Hell, even his descriptions of female sexuality, while sometimes surprising, try harder to get it right than many of the writers from the time. Describing a woman’s exposed inner labia as looking like “sunlight on a lake” or a woman’s arousal as “her excitement” pouring “out of her,” are suprisingly poetic. And while many of these passages are vag-centric, it’s honestly pretty refreshing in a world preoccupied with male erections.

Lee isn’t a writer for every horror fan. His works are often extreme, and they don’t make apologies for what they are. In fact, in the grand scheme of his work, Incubi is actually pretty tame compared to some of his more aggressive gross outs. But, while I don’t feel the need to wallow in Lee’s more mean-spirited work, in a world where every creative decision needs to come prepared with a series of tweets justifying its existence, it’s nice to escape into a well-written story that just doesn’t give a fuck. And giving no fucks just happens to be Edward Lee’s specialty. 

Not done with sex demons? Keep the Satanic orgy going with Worship the Night.

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