I’d like to welcome Larissa Hinton to Books, Bones & Buffy. Larissa was kind enough to ask me to review her newest e-book, Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology. Everblossom is a short collection with alternating stories and poems, and can easily be read in one sitting. The entries are grouped in three sections, “Seed,” “Bud” and “Blossom,” and like a flower, are meant to reflect the stages of growth.
Although I don’t normally read and review poetry, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the poems in this anthology. Several were stand-outs for me, including “WSV #4” from the “Bud” section and “Wither” from the “Blossom” section. In “WSV #4” Hinton uses short one to three-word phrases to describe a teen’s day at school (presumably middle or high school). The staccato rhythm of the poem creates a feeling of movement, and the descriptive words start out innocently enough: “…pencils—pens—writing—utensils—down—window,” but become vaguely threatening by the middle: “…smoke—inhale—cough—‘Just relax,—you’ll like it!’—All lies,—lungs—tear—mind—lost.” Other poems follow the same form and I thought they all succeeded in creating mood with very little verbiage.
Several of the short stories worked well by themselves, such as “Changes,” a strange tale about a boy and girl who are trying to hide their true natures from each other, and “Forget,” a page-long story about a girl who is able to predict the future. Many of the stories have supernatural elements, and because they are so short, they left me feeling uneasy, which was probably what the author intended.
Although the stories and poems by themselves made sense, however, the collection as a whole felt disjointed and lacked cohesion. Some of the stories were just odd and out-of-place, like “Transcend” which is barely half a page and describes a soldier who has just been shot and whose ghost is surveying the bloody battle scene. The last short story in the book, “Black and White,” has no paranormal elements of all, and as the finale to the collection (although it is followed by a poem) I wanted it to make a stronger statement and tie into the rest of the book. Instead, it only left me feeling confused. The writing throughout the collection is fairly solid but occasionally veers towards the overly dramatic. And correcting rookie mistakes such as tense problems and word usage would help with the flow of the writing.
Despite the issues I had with the book, by the end I could see the overall sense of growth that Hinton was going for. Everblossom has a strange and visceral quality that will give the reader something to think about. Hinton herself expresses in her introduction that the point of the anthology is “…to play with the idea of what is ordinary.” I think you will find this collection to be anything but.