Katerina by Erik Hofstatter
Kamil, a thirty-something medieval weapons trader resides in the notorious Red Light District in Prague. Despite his hatred for prostitutes, he accepts an offer from Ginny – a local sex worker.
As their unusual friendship unfolds and Kamil witnesses several bizarre scenarios, he begins to suspect that Ginny might not be an ordinary prostitute…
What begins as a relatively straightforward transaction, quickly evolves into something completely different and unexpected. Kamil comes across, as least initially, as cocky and self-assured while Ginny is far more cautious. As their relationship develops, it feels like there is a complete one eighty in this dynamic. Ginny grows in confidence while Kamil feels less and less certain of exactly what is going on. I’d like to tell you the reasons why these changes occur, but I fear this would be rather spoilery. Suffice to say, if you decide to read the novelette, more detail will be revealed.
For me, it’s the interactions between both characters that are the highlight of the piece. There is an air of hesitation and distrust as Kamil and Ginny try to suss one another out. Katerina is a short, episodic affair. The scenes between Kamil and Ginny evolve as their relationship evolves. First everything is business like and transactional, but as they get to know one another, and Kamil uncovers more and more about Ginny, their relationship becomes something entirely different.
I’m a fan of this writer and for the most part I enjoyed this novelette. My only real criticism is that it reads like it is the set up for a larger work. Everything just seems a trifle rushed for my taste. The characters were not quite developed enough and while the premise is good it perhaps should have been done as a longer piece. If it was a little longer I think there could have been a deeper exploration of Ginny’s character in particular. I can appreciate she is meant to be enigmatic to a degree, but some additional insight into her origins would have been the icing on the cake.
Hofstatter continues to impress with stories that pull no punches, and travel to some genuinely dark places. Dark, and just a little bit sleazy, Katerina is another good example of what to expect from his writing. If you desire some distinctly adult fiction then you have come to the right place.
I look forward to discovering what Mr Hofstatter has in store for us next. More delightfully twisted tales? I can only hope a full length novel will be on the cards for some point in the future? I would relish the opportunity to read something bigger.
Katerina is published by the author and is available now.