The Creased Spine Bookshelf 1/22

A peak at some of the cracking fiction I’ve been lucky enough to read recently.

Short fiction

Things of Which We Do Not Speak by Lucy Taylor (from the collection, Spree, and other stories, pub. Independent Legions, 2021). This story maxes out the positive capabilities of horror fiction.

Opening sentences:

““Hit me,” said Elaine.

I thought I hadn’t heard her right.

“Hit me!” she demanded. I stopped midstroke. She might as well have screamed that the sheets were on fire. My cock slithered out of her like a clubbed snake.”

Pear of Anguish by Gemma Files (read in the collection, When Things Get Dark, ed. Ellen Datlow, pub. Titan, 2021). The cruelty of adolescence, of being despised, and the need to escape, the wish for magic. A story that sticks in your throat.

Opening paragraph: “Know what a pear of anguish is? Imogen asked me, that last day we spent together, and I shook my head. I’ll show you. Take a look.”

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (from the collection, Milk Blood Heat, first pub. Grove Press, 2021). A bitter-sweet lozenge of transformation, realisation, and grief.

Opening sentence: ““Pink is the color for girls,” Kiera says, so she and Ava cut their palms and let their blood drip into a shallow bowl filled with milk, watching the color spread slowly on the surface, small red flowers blooming.”

Long fiction

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill, (pub. Titan Books, 2020). For me one of the strengths of this moving and surprising story was Hamill’s simple language that allowed effective characterisation.

Opening sentence: “I started collecting my older sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.”

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, (pub. HarperVoyager, 2016). Street level shapeshifters. It’s SGJ. Nuff said.

Opening sentence: “My grandfather used to tell me he was a werewolf.”

(image credit: Martine’s Legs by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

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