Author: Lola Smirnova
Publisher: 2014, Quickfox Publishing
Pages: 314, Paperback
Genre: Adult fiction
Reviewed by: Anita Lock, Pacific Book Review
Book ReviewA quick look at the cover of Twisted, one may draw the conclusion that it is a highly provocative erotica book. On the contrary, it does not fit that genre at all. Twisted is the raw and unsettling story about a young woman’s experience in the sex trade. Amid the overwhelming premise of prostitution, Smirnova’s eye-opening debut novel is filled with accounts of human tragedy.
Penned in first person, Smirnova’s narrative relays the story of Julia Lazar, who leaves her post-Soviet and depressed socioeconomic Ukraine for a better life with better pay. She is not alone, though, since her two sisters are in the same dire straits. The three siblings venture over to Luxembourg, where they get involved in the sex-oriented establishments. When Julia decides, against her sisters’ wishes, to head out to Istanbul, she learns first hand that business dealings over there are not quite the “free-rider’s paradise” she expects. Based on her background in Ukraine and her personal work experience in the adult entertainment industry, rising author Smirnova has crafted a gripping story that takes readers into the mind of a woman who is grappling with why she is “morally comfortable with what she’s doing.” Smirnova includes a number of literary tools to keep her narrative constantly moving. On the top of that list of tools is her use of paradox.
A good example is Julia’s racing and often disturbing thoughts that run concurrent to the salacious services she offers to a host of sleazy characters. Smirnova also keeps her chapters short and alternates them between Julia’s clients, love life, and interactions with her sisters. Julia is indeed a dynamic character. She is definitely conflicted . Her love/hate job is lucrative, but at what price? Although she appears to have a hardened personality, Julia definitely has a human side. For example, Julia may not admit that she longs for real love in her life, especially to her middle sister who fantasizes the perfect home life. Nonetheless, she experiences emotional pain when her lovers abandon her. Smirnova also contrasts Julia’s work life with the love between her sisters. Juxtaposing horrific scenes with sisterly emails that are filled with love and concern for Julia’s well being is nothing less than poignant.
Twisted is not an easy read and not intended for the faint of heart. While it ends with a cliffhanger, readers can look forward to its sequel, which Smirnova is currently working on. In the meantime, Smirnova hopes that Twisted will raise awareness to the problems of the sex industry. “Victims are usually inexperienced young women, who suffer, dream and love in the same way as anyone’s girlfriend, sister or daughter. I wanted the reader to realize that these working girls are humans.” Kudos to Smirnova for an outstanding job achieving that goal!