Sing Me Your Scars (Apex Voices #03) by Damien Angelica Walters
Genre: Adult horror short stories
Publisher: Apex Publications
Release date: March 10 2015
Source: eARC from publisher
The nitty-gritty: A powerful collection of disturbing but compelling reflections on pain, abuse and loss, beautifully written.
I left the first bridge alone. It didn’t need my Voice. Time would take its own toll. My tears tasted of honey, of loss, yet buried deep within, a hint of steel and stone. Of strength. And when my sorrow dried to salt upon my cheeks, I walked away and left behind all the pieces I’d unmade.
A husband abuses his wife and then stitches her back up with thread from his own fabric lining.
A modern-day Medusa makes a special potion that suppresses her beauty so men won’t fall in love with her.
Two women create bridges by singing them into being, but when one of them gets a taste of power, her creations turn corrupt.
These are but three of the stunning stories in this collection from Bram Stoker nominee Damien Angelica Walters. I had no idea what I was getting into when I accepted this book for review, even though I knew Apex Publications has a great track record when it comes to short stories. Walters’ collection surpassed my expectations in a big way. Each one was strange and unique and unsettling, sad and beautiful and horrible, all those things rolled into sharp, compact observances of pain and loss. Walters takes ideas we’re familiar with—like a dying man who is afraid his wife won’t remember him when he’s gone—and makes them unfamiliar by adding weird twists. Her stories drip with suffering, mostly by women, but each character learns and grows stronger by the end of it.
Twenty stories make up this excellent collection, eight of which are published here for the first time. I loved most of the stories (a few were way too short and didn’t have quite the impact of the longer pieces), but rather than talk about all twenty of them, here are my favorites:
Melancholia in Bloom
Probably my favorite story in the collection. A woman who is dying of Alzheimer’s keeps a secret box full of magic rose petals, petals that each contain one of her lost memories. She uses up the petals one by one, trying to keep her daughter from discovering her disease. What a sad and poignant story about loss, and the tenuous bond between mother and daughter.
Sing Me Your Scars
A woman is trapped in a weird relationship with a man who is trying to make her into his version of the perfect woman. Little by little, he replaces her body parts with those of other women, but his experiment does not turn out the way he wants it to. This story was gruesome and shocking and had a great twist at the end.
Paper Thin Roses of Maybe
A man and his wife watch the world outside their windows in horror, as a strange two dimensionality begins to creep slowly over their town. This story was a sad and melancholy snapshot of a couple trying to stay together against the odds. Best of all, this one had an awesome Twilight Zone vibe!
A girl discovers she has the power to kill the bad people she comes into contact with, by carving their names into her skin. But she hates this power, and one day she discovers how to escape her fate, only to regret it later. This is yet another story about abuse and how hard it is to get away from it.
Paskutinis Iliuzija (The Last Illusion)
The last magician in Lithuania tries to ease his daughter’s illness with small acts of forbidden magic. This is one of the few stories that made me smile at the end—although I did have tears in my eyes. This was beautiful story about a father’s love for his daughter and how he tries to keep her safe from an outside threat.
Glass Boxes and Clockwork Gods
One of the more horrifying tales about (mostly) women who are trapped in boxes, while a man “remakes” them into gruesome combinations of blood and meat and clockwork parts. It’s another story of a man trying to make a woman “better,” and it was shocking.
Obviously, these aren’t the types of stories to read if you’re looking for something light and cozy. But if you’re a discerning reader who isn’t afraid to look at the painful parts of life in new ways, you won’t find any better than the stories in Sing Me Your Scars.
Big thanks to Apex Books for supplying a review copy. Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.
**Side note: I was thrilled to find out that Walters has a novel coming out soon from Dark House Press called Paper Tigers! I can’t wait to see what she does with a longer form. And, she’s also got a story in the Kickstarter project I’m backing, Genius Loci. Check it out!
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