Breathe. Breathe. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Poetry and short fiction that doesn’t apologise for what it is – equal parts painful and passionate. Exploring loss, agony, misery and a slew of other hardships, this volume possesses a variety of darkness.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for giving me the opportunity.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I often cringe when getting a taste of poetry, not because I necessarily dislike it, but because, like Brian Kirk confessed in the very insightful foreword, I simply don’t understand it. In the past, all I was able to do was nod my head and accept that I perhaps wasn’t sophisticated enough whilst the words in question just appeared to be a mishmash of obscurity. That’s all changed, however, as I now know that I can comprehend the meaning, and I can perceive the very real emotions intermingled within the composition. Al-Mehairi didn’t attempt to hide behind convoluted words that require a dictionary, but she was very, sometimes painfully, clear on her context.

A great deal of horror saturates this book, from authentic forms of abuse, to the teasing of paranormal elements. It can be easy to let a cover fool you, especially one as bright and deceptively cheerful as this one, but believe me when I say that it explores the grim and somber.

Act One – Breathe Through FEAR
This portion included pieces of otherworldly, fantasy-esque darkness and beauty, as well as a sprinkling of more realistic topics. Most notably: The Lure of a Witch, The Society of Fireflies, Abandoned, The Heirloom, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tale, Earl Grey Tea, The Table is Turned, and Ningyo’s Misfortune all appealed to me in one form or another. Some led with nature being the prominent theme – I found them exquisite – whilst others were just downright suspenseful. One in particular, Earl Grey Tea, knocked me off guard, as I was legitimately tearing up before that very last line slapped me across the face.

Act Two – Breathe Through PAIN
Whilst the first act primarily consisted of paranormal themes, this section delved to a greater extent into the more raw and sensitive matters that haunt us all. I could truly relate to some, but what was most apparent was that Al-Mehairi clearly put her all into her writing, perhaps even reliving the hardest moments of her life. Most notably: Silent Screams, Nature’s Salve, What Lies Beneath, Offerings to Nang Tani, Wraith of the Lonely, and The Hunted intrigued me.

Short Stories
The last segment showcased Al-Mehairi’s ability to embrace other writing methods. I most enjoyed The Madness of the Woodpecker, Life-Giver of the Nile and Dandelion Yellow. Honestly, I feel the best was saved for last, as Dandelion Yellow proved to be something I won’t forget for a long time to come.

In conclusion: There’s a lot of content in this title, and all of it was thought-provoking. I may not be a connoisseur of poetry, but I appreciated the heart-wrenching emotion poured into every addition, and the concluding short stories also interested me.

Notable Quote:

She had made dreams out of nightmares.

© Red Lace 2018

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4 Comments on “Breathe. Breathe. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

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