By Gemma Amor
There has been a lot of discussion in the horror community lately about trigger warnings contained in books labelled as horror. Whatever side of the fence you may fall on, Gemma Amor’s introduction serves as an establishment of theme, as well as notifying readers that potentially troubling subjects will be covered in the stories they are about to read. Amor gives us enough warning that any reader who find themselves wanting to avoid spoilers can get out before they arrive and skip right to the stories.
Personally, I loved the introduction. It caused me to think a little bit deeper about everything I was reading as I went through the collection. There are supernatural elements in some and hints sprinkled here and there in others, but the stories as a whole are very down-to-earth, and very human. Gemma Amor’s illustrations accompanying each story also add a very much appreciated personal touch, and give every entry their own unique character.
“Have You Seen My Dog?” is a strong opening story which makes us think: if we have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, are they restored when they pass? On the surface it’s a frightening story, inducing paranoia in the reader who waits for a surprise around every bend.
“Justine” was my favorite story in the collection. This is one of the prime reasons for the introduction Amor wrote, and although I’ve never personally experienced the events the titular character goes through, it’s all too easy to empathize with her plight. The vivid imagery contained on the character’s trip through hell was exceptionally well-detailed and conceived.
“The Strangler” was another favorite. Again, I can only relate from an outsider’s perspective, but having known women who experience postnatal depression, reading about a tangible vision of this depression and anxiety is difficult. Amor reaches into our chest with this one, grabs our heart, and shakes it around a bit for good measure. This is a great example of what I meant earlier when I wrote about causing me to think deeper. This piece brought out some serious feelings in me. I can only imagine how it might affect someone who had experienced it first-hand.
I could write a discourse on every story in this bunch. There’s not a bad one in here, and when a story collection doesn’t have any skips, it’s pretty much an automatic 5 star for me. It’s a rare occurrence. I will highlight some other favorites before I leave you to order it from Amazon or straight from Giles Press, though. “Pure Water” is a quick fun read that reminded me of something from an early Stephen King story collection. “Rat Girl” is a poignant story that gets more empathy out of the reader than the reader might expect to give up. “Heart of Stone” covers a lot of potential themes, and I found myself examining the events of the story in a multitude of ways.
Maybe someday I’ll read something by Gemma Amor and find it worthy of less than 5 stars, but it’s not today.
I was given an e-book by the publisher for review consideration