By Laura Mauro
Sing Your Sadness Deep is a haunting collection of short stories exploring loneliness, isolation, and human connection. The thirteen tales in this dark fiction compilation tiptoe on the edge of horror and a few have a touch of magical realism. Mauro’s flexible writing style and strong technique both require the reader to examine the subtleties hidden within each story’s well-crafted layers. I would consider this a thoughtful, slow-burn series of stories instead of a slew of lightning-fast reads. It’s so easy for the reader to get lost in all of the richly furnished dream lands Mauro creates in each story. Some of the tales are jarring and aggressive while others are quiet, haunting, and echoes reverberate long after they’re finished.
The first story in the collection is “Sun Dogs”, a story set in the desolate desert wilderness of the American Southwest; Mauro best employs Magical Realism in this one, and fuses contemporary story elements with Native American mythology and folklore. Placing this story first in the collection is a smart move. It sets an important tone for the rest of the book, highlighting Mauro’s ability to appeal to a wide, inclusive audience, and primes the reader to view the rest of the content through a feminist lens.
“Ptichka” is an incredibly relevant, modern tale of woe. This particular yarn focuses on a young, pregnant Russian immigrant named Marta living in poverty and without access to quality healthcare. We follow Marta over the course of a weekend as she navigates her options as a single, unwed mother after she receives news about her unborn babe. This one is really brutal, and it covers a lot of difficult to digest subject matter pertinent to current societal events. (Content warning: Body Horror, Medical Procedures, Pregnancy/Loss of a Child, Abortion, Disabilities, Deformaties, etc.)
“Searching for Laika” was the weakest story in the collection, but that’s hardly a statement meant to tarnish this golden collection. Although it didn’t captivate me immediately due to pacing, I eventually made contact with its message and was lost amidst the stars.
“The Pain Eater’s Daughter” is the final story in the book, and the one that hit home the hardest for me personally. I prefer to provide very little summary for this; the gentle flow of this story will fare better without my input. This story follows a mysterious family and the “gift” that has been handed down through generations. It is a subtle tale of love, loss, pain, and acceptance. (Content warning: death, chronic pain/ illness.)
Sing Your Sadness Deep deftly examines all of the intricacies of the human condition. Each story beckons us to question if the most frightening things aren’t to be found in books or movies, but perhaps out there in the world around us. (As it turns out, some folks may be more “monster” than man after all.) Overall, this was a wonderful read! I will continue to think about this book’s provocative messages long after it’s placed back on the shelf.
Review by Ellen Avigliano
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.