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By Alina Reyes (author of The Butcher), translated by David Watson, ISBN 0802135056.

"an erotic adventure in which you are the hero".

My girlfriend and I had been wandering through some remainder bookshops after a nice meal in a nice restaurant and a nice day of walking through the city. This bookshop had an "ALL BOOKS £2" sign over every shelf. Most of them looked like they were worth less than that. (A History of the Goose being one not so memorable title.)

On a high shelf at the back of the shop were the, well, porn books: Chains of Lust, Slave to Desire. Boring. But Behind Closed Doors - "an erotic adventure in which you are the hero" piqued my interest. Choose Your Own Adventure and porn. Excellent! The blurb made it clear that as the Man, you had to find the Woman via a series of sexy adventures. When I discovered the book was actually two stories in one, as it could be turned upside-down for the same story, where you could play as the Woman, written more for women, I was determined to buy it. The story in which you play as the Man had a naked woman on the cover; turned upside-down, the cover for the Woman was a topless man with his hand down his pants.

At first, I was sorely disappointed. Before opening it, I had imagined a plethora of choice before me, as in the old Steve Jackson books, where you could choose your specialties - magic, swordplay and so on. Though of course for this adventure I'd need different skills. And I could roll 2D6 for Attractiveness, and choose my Sexuality. ("You are approached by one of the men. He is wearing tight leather. If you are GAY, turn to 69. If you are BISEXUAL, turn to 69. If you are STRAIGHT, turn to 103.")

But this was sadly not the case. Neither was the book's writing style much like a Choose Your Own Adventure, rejecting the usual second person perspective for a first person one, which was irritating, removing the "you" from "you are the hero" (a tagline inserted by, I suspect, a devious marketing executive to lure in seekers of kitsch like myself). Playing as the Man to begin with, I quickly found that the choices were almost non-existent. I was launched into the story, and after the requisite "have an adventure or go home" choice (I went home, and for my sins died alone and loveless. Then I had another go), I found myself trapped in a house of doors, each leading to a new and supposedly sexy adventure.

After the first few chapters, the whole thing descended into surreality, and I lost all informed choice and guidance. Every chapter ended with something very much like

"I found myself facing two doors.

Go through DOOR 19 -->
Go through DOOR 21 -->"

This wasn't helpful. The first three chapters in the house of doors had given me the clear choice of leaving the company of a pair of large-breasted women, or remain to have more sex with them. But almost constantly thereafter, I had to pick a door at random. (There was also no way to get to Door 23, I noticed, a clue leading me to the conclusion that the book was written just to dip into.) So I took to choosing the highest door number, to reach the denouement as quickly as possible. This had the effects of both hastening my journey, and exposing me to as little of the story as possible. This was a good thing, as the book was otherwise one of the least erotic things I've ever read, and at times became near Lovecraftian in how disturbing it was - the scene in Chapter 36 ("The Monster") in which I had sex with a ghost who gave birth to a giant cockroach particularly. At various other points, I found myself having sex with hermaphrodite angels*, hiding below a bride's wedding dress, and generally having a fairly peculiar time of it, though the chapter in which I received oral sex below a desk from someone who I thought was my attractive secretary, but revealed at the climax (pun sort of intended) to be a male spy, raised a smile. And almost every chapter had some sexual encounter or other in it. Far from being the hero, I was buffeted around the story at random, until the end, where the choice was fairly nebulous.

Playing again as the Woman, the experience was much the same, only this time I noticed I had less actual sex. Also, I had same-sex sex more often. It's different for girls.

All that said, the book was quite entertaining, in a ludicrous, kitschy way. I can't believe anyone could really get turned on by it; it made me laugh more than anything else. I got two pounds' worth of fun out of it, but I'd never have bought it if it had been more, or if I hadn't had a great evening's wandering with someone I love. It was the same fun you get from watching a really bad movie, and it's perfect for dipping into now and then. I'd recommend it if you have a money to burn, or if you want a conversation-starter for conversations that start "That? Oh, it's only my erotic choose your own adventure book..."

* Sample: "Some...had female genitals above their male genitals, while others had them the other way round: their male cluster hanging over their female slit. They coupled in what struck me as the most perfect possible way: the upper cock of the first in the upper slit of the second and the lower cock of the second in the lower slit of the first. Each was simultaneously penetrator and penetrated, each was at the same time the man and woman of the other. And I imagine that they must experience the greatest ecstasy."

PornQuest 2006 spurred me into finally doing this w/u and rescuing a nodeshell.

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