Product Review: Sunstone Vol. 1

Back in 2012 I was browsing DeviantArt when I came across a picture that caught my eye. The picture was of a beautiful woman lying on a beach in a latex mermaid suit. I admired the artwork for a brief time, added it to my favourites and then thought nothing more of it.

It wasn’t until a little later that a friend of mine recommended Sunstone to me and I suddenly realized that there was much more to that bedazzling mermaid than first met the eye. In fact there was an entire comic associated with the character—one full of depth, emotions, and very awesome erotic themes.

To make the most basic of summaries Sunstone is a comic based around the BDSM adventures of one Lisa and Allison and the relationship that develops from those adventures. The comic has been available for free on DeviantArt since 2012 (and continues to be free in this format), however recently the writer of the series, Shiniez, has decided to publish physical copies of the comic and I couldn’t be happier.

As such this review looks at the first physical books in the Sunstone series, Sunstone Vol. 1, however I will probably also touch on the series in general as I unsubtly gush about it like the unabashed fangirl I am.

Sunstone Vol. 1

Sunstone Vol. 1 covers the first chapter of Sunstone as it is seen on DeviantArt. As I said before Sunstone primarily revolves around two people—Lisa and Allison—as they explore BDSM together, but to keep the description that simple is to do it a disservice.

The cover of Sunstone Vol. 1
The cover of Sunstone Vol. 1

Lisa and Allison are two friends who met through an online chat room. Lisa starts off in the story as a BDSM enthusiast who has practiced self-bondage and loves the idea of being a submissive but who has never had any real experiences with the BDSM world outside of her own experimentation and her penchant for writing erotic literature. Allison, on the other hand, is a semi-practiced dominant who had never had a true submissive. Regardless she has hoarded a large collection of BDSM gear.

After some time talking to each other the two decide to meet up to fulfil each other’s needs. But despite all the hot lesbian sex and the strong friendship between the two what Lisa and Allison have is strictly no-strings attached…right?

Despite all the previously mentioned hot lesbian sex the main appeal of Sunstone stems from its characters—how they deal with BDSM eventually expands to explore the other ways in which life can liberate and bind a person. In addition to Lisa and Allison there are a myriad of other fantastic characters that come in to the story and flesh out the world. Each one works to give us further insights into the main characters while also acting as perfectly proficient characters in their own right. All of this helps make the Sunstone world more believable and keeps the viewer thoroughly engaged. It also helps that Sunstone has a sense of humour and is not afraid to tease itself or its characters a little bit.

'A teaser' by Shiniez
‘A logical…photo teaser’ by Shiniez

Lisa and Allison are a delight too. Lisa is adorable, dorky, and an utter joy. Following from her perspective most of the time Lisa’s honesty, enthusiasm and, yes, sometimes even nerves helps us explore along with her as a reader. Meanwhile Allison is everything she needs to be in order to give a natural vibe of dominance which you can feel resonate from every depiction of her. However even Allison has her adorkable moments too and the two are thoroughly well-rounded from the get-go.

'Le art' by Shiniez.
‘Le art’ by Shiniez.

Vol. 1 also has some brilliant foreshadowing for things to come. In subtle ways we learn things about the characters which will eventually become more important as the story progresses and I’m a big fan of this. Foreshadowing is delicious, just like Lisa’s lip-bite. Oh, did I not mention that Lisa is a lip-biter? Oh, well she is, and it’s amazing!

At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself “But Emmeline, if this whole comic is available for free then why should I bother buying it?”. My first answer would be “To support the creator” who has put an awful lot of work into this comic and who deserves recognition for such a brilliantly executed and illustrated story. However the book also comes with certain bonuses.

I don’t know about you but I’ve always felt a certain amount of pride in owning the physical copy of something I love. PDFs are fine and dandy but nothing beats flicking through a good book. There’s a sense of intimacy in the whole experience of holding a book in hand that just can’t be recreated in any other format for me. And when we’re talking about a story involving BDSM and an exploration into the human condition intimacy matters.

The artwork for Sunstone Vol. 1 has also been updated in comparison to the online version and the differences in some places are huge. Expressions are clarified, details are added, and it generally feels more in keeping with the most recent chapters of the story. If I’m being honest part of the enjoyment of Sunstone Vol. 1 for me was holding it up to the DeviantArt version and comparing the changes in depth. It’s amazing to see the differences and makes the purchase of Sunstone Vol. 1 well worth it.

'aaand the full side by side comparison' by Shiniez.
‘Aaand the full side by side comparison’ by Shiniez. (Original art on the right, updated art on the left)

While we’re looking at art styles for a moment it’s also worth noting that Shiniez employs two different art styles throughout the comic—one is a style that is (presumably) quicker to draw and is generally used throughout the comic, the other style is one that renders the characters in much more detail but still manages to retain the general tone of the comic. Both are fantastic and both are brilliant at conveying character and emotion.

The book also comes with bonus artworks and a special section by the artist explaining how Sunstone started and his appreciation for how things have turned out. It also explains Sunstone’s ties to another comic titled Bloodstein (which is also worth a read).

So are there any downsides to Sunstone Vol. 1? For me there is only one big downside and it is the mildest of nit-picks. To me the quality of the physical copy could have been a bit better. The cover seems a bit flimsy and I do worry that it will get damaged with the frequent re-reads that it will no doubt be receiving. Basically I’m greedy and I want a hardback version. This isn’t a valid criticism.

The other issue with Sunstone is one that I haven’t encountered personally but which came from Lemon Fresh. When I recommended Sunstone to him he personally found the characters to be quite annoying and, as a result, disliked the comic. When asked to clarify he couldn’t pinpoint any details (boo) but it did bring up a more valid criticism. Simply put not everyone will like this sort of comic.

If you’ve read this review and you’re uncertain as to whether or not Sunstone is for you then my recommendation is to read some of it on DeviantArt first. If you love it there then great, buy the comic to support the artist. If not then there’s no loss on your part and no commitment to buy Sunstone Vol. 1. Simple.

As an aside it would also be nice to see Sunstone incorporate more sex toys. We’ve got such a huge variety when it comes to toys nowadays that it would be nice to see Sunstone utilize this treasure trove of buzzing gems with more gusto and to perhaps acknowledge some of the technical innovations that have occurred in more recent toys (they ain’t all battery powered or tethered to the mains anymore). Again, though, this is personal preference to some degree and I think generally Sunstone does a very good job at balancing the sex appeal in its story with the characters and their own preferences.

Final Thoughts

Usually I would take photos for a review of the product I own but in this case I actually couldn’t. Why? Because Mr. Peaches has let someone borrow it and they’re enjoying it so much that they haven’t given it back yet. -Cue frustrated scream-

Not only does this produce an annoying lack of photos for this review but also a lack in general; I miss Sunstone Vol. 1. I want it back. I want to thumb slowly through its pages once more and admire the rich illustrations and the growing relationships between the characters. Owning it is something I take pride in and you can bet that I’ve already got Sunstone Vol. 2 preordered on Amazon.

If you like interesting characters, BDSM, hot lesbian sex, and an effective and insightful story then I highly recommend Sunstone. With the exception of Lemon Fresh I’ve never known someone dislike it and I’m so happy to be able to sing its praises on my blog.

Recommend to:

Comic enthusiasts.

BDSM enthusiasts.

Sex geeks.

Do Not Recommend to:

People who strongly dislike BDSM.

People who strongly dislike lesbian erotica.

Lemon Fresh.