Here are the books I read to finish out the year, and what I thought about them.
Simon Strantzas — Nothing is Everything
Read my Book Spotlight about this book.
Laura Mauro — Sing Your Sadness Deep
Sing Your Sadness Deep is a collection of weird fiction by Laura Mauro, containing fifteen stories in all, one an award winner, another a finalist (“Looking for Laika”, British Fantasy Award; “Sun Dogs”, finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award).
Bluntly, I don’t know what to say about this collection to do it justice. I loved it, a lot. While each setting was weird or uncanny, the affliction or emotional conflict of each protagonist was deeply real. Mauro’s stories are the ones you finish and all you can do is set the book down and think: “Wow…” giving yourself a little reprieve before starting another, because despite how hard-hitting they are, you can’t help but to want to continue.
Gwendolyn Kiste — Boneset & Feathers
Boneset & Feathers is a dark fantasy novella by Bram Stoker Award-winning author, Gwendolyn Kiste. The story follows a young, lonesome witch who lives in a cottage in the woods, bordering a small village with citizens who loathe and despise her. They want nothing to do with her, for the witchfinders seek her out and when they arrive, it’s not only witches who are put to their pyres.
It’s a journey of loneliness, of being “the other,” of fear, and inevitable acceptance. It’s a story almost every person can relate to in one way or another. For Kiste’s first stand-alone dark fantasy work (I believe?), it’s a great first step into the genre, and I’m hopeful for any future non-weird/horror fiction she may release.
D.P. Watt — Almost Insentient, Almost Divine
Almost Insentient, Almost Divine is a unique collection of odd, weird stories by D.P. Watt.
It’s difficult to describe this book, for it’s satirical but horror-inducing, strange but grounded in reality. Watt’s prose is wonderful and I easily slid into his bizarre scenarios and worlds, in spite of the sometimes confusion found therein. His work reminded me of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Nathanael West’s The Dream Life of Balso Snell, and the ghost stories of M.R. James.
Really, there isn’t anything else like Almost Insentient, Almost Divine.
David Peak — The Spectacle of the Void
The Spectacle of the Void is a non-fiction collection of essays from author, David Peak, in which he discusses at length what makes horror, horror. He covers a wide variety of subjects: philosophy, books, films, life, afterlife, the “other” and so on. Overall, It’s a short read but comprehensive and enjoyable.
Farah Rose Smith — The Almanac of Dust
The Almanac of Dust is a bleak, fantasy novella about a husband who’s obsessed with his work, and an ailing wife who’s desperate for his attention and for a cure to her disease. But the only cure, she believes, is in the silver city; which her husband bars her from traveling to. Until she does, on her own, one night while he’s asleep.
There’s so much to say to about this book. Though set in a fantasy world, the relationship discourse is extremely “real.” The loss, the love, the longing, the despair; all softly spoken through melancholic words and beautiful, poetic prose. It reminded me of story telling from video games Dark Souls and Bloodborne, while also recalling the tales of Lord Dunsany, albeit darker.
This was my first Farah Smith work, but it definitely won’t be my last.