Short fiction that hones into the lives of individuals striving to endure emotional, and supernatural, disturbances. From homicidal monsters, to train-haunting ghosts, to the debilitating battles with the mind, this collection has a sprinkle of everything.
(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.
I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of collections and anthologies these days, perhaps more so than ever. Thankfully, they’ve all been mostly excellent, and this one was no exception. Carmen’s use of prose, usually awash with gothic tones, struck me as unequivocally beautiful. I got lost in several tales, some of which brought along some deeper meaning about the unpleasant struggles of life. Drug addiction played a significant role in more than one story, and it often struck me as an antagonist – or a monster – in its own right.
Without further ado, let’s get into my favourites.
Thirsty Creatures – His insides came out instead of sound.
A girl rides upon her horse, in an eternal journey through a lifeless land. The first one of the lot, and it positively captivated me with its macabre imagery. It told of a catastrophic event with the most attractive, and wonderfully bleak, style of writing. It reminded of the story of Tantalus in Greek mythology, what with the emphasis on temptation without satisfaction. I just desperately wanted to remain a little longer in that wasteland.
Lady of the Flies – Tonight, she would not need to combat the darkness of her thoughts.
A tragic and powerful account of one woman’s inner, psychological pain that ultimately breaks her. It clearly used the foundation of the serial killer trope; the trauma that pushes individuals over the edge. This was certainly thought-provoking, and I honestly experienced a little discomfort. The reality is, people go through unseen battles, and Carmen touched upon the extreme and possible effects that being misunderstood, cast aside and bullied can have on the mind.
Flowers From Amaryllis – You struggle for enough breath to say her name.
A troubled woman, hospitalised once more, goes through treatment and recalls her life.
This emotionally hit something deep within me, because mental illness was a major factor, as well as the comfort certain aspects can bring. I know full-well how a pet, or another person, can lift that detrimental weight, yet nothing lasts forever. That shadow wolf can always return, unfortunately.
Other notable additions include Red Room, Souls Dark and Deep, All Souls of Eve, Liquid Handcuffs, and A Fairy Plant in Grief. I didn’t particularly feel much for the remaining stories, but I didn’t consider them terrible.
In conclusion: Carmen has successfully made her way onto my radar. I adore her sense of style, and I enjoyed this collection; over half the stories appealed to me, with only a few not being to my taste. I’d definitely recommend it, however I can understand it not being everyone’s cup of tea due to the reoccurring themes of addiction, and perhaps even mental health.
The stuffed creature, too, persisted, its body worn to nothing by the friction of her hands, its face erased by kisses from parched lips.
© Red Lace 2018
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