The Cage by Louise Friday
Personal growth, retrospection, questioning and resolution are common themes in all kinds of fiction—erotica included. Each and all are difficult tropes to maintain over the length of a narrative, particularly when the story is first-person. Involving sex can certainly complement the story, but it can also be a burden. Adding sex can make the character even more introspective and this is what makes The Cage a challenging read.
There is certainly a story here, one woman‘s journey of self-reclamation and discovery. But that story is weighed down by the reader having to wade through the narrator‘s repetitive inner monologue. Over and over we hear the same thoughts on her lover, her needs and her difficulties.
However, at the same time, there are significant contributing factors to her story that are only vaquely referenced, or oddly referenced. And some are inconsistently referenced. Her use of spliff (synonyms for marijuana abound, please use some different ones) is a minor factor in the beginning but becomes a massively pervading influence by the end.
Was she coming to an understanding? Perhaps. But it is too hard to tell because we are only privy to the characters rambling, not a structured narrative.
A bright spot in The Cage is how she relates to and comes to understand her lover. This is balanced, though still somewhat repetitive. Their interactions are strong and fully relatable. And their sex, a key ingredient to their journey and hot. Really really hot.
I do think this character‘s story is compelling and if you like single-stream narrative with some hard sex as a contributing factor to personal movement. A bit too much in someone else‘s head for my head.