I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters
Published by Apex Book Company on January 2 2018
Genres: Adult, Speculative fiction
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The nitty-gritty: Another fantastic collection from Damien Angelica Walters, with a wide range of stories that explore the themes of fear and grief.
This is the third book I’ve read by Damien Angelica Walters, and each time I read her work I’m surprised anew at how good she is. Her short stories often deal with tough subjects, like abuse, abandonment, illness, bullying and more. Much of her work has a strong feminist bent to it, showing how even now women are not always treated on an equal footing with men. Certain fears pop up in her stories again and again: the fear of losing a child and the fear of abuse and not being able to escape it are two of them. I was thrilled to see Walters branching out a bit from some of her earlier stories, embracing new genres, like science fiction, for example. And yet, these stories all have a distinct flavor that I would instantly recognize as a Damien Angelica Walters story. There were a couple of stories that I didn’t enjoy as much as the others, but that’s to be expected in any collection. Over all, though, this is an excellent group of stories. Here are my favorites:
S is For Soliloquy – 5 stars
By far my favorite story of the bunch, this is a fairly short story with a huge, delightful twist at the end. I can’t say much about it, obviously, but the story is told by a woman who leads the reader through the timeline of her relationship with a man. As you might expect, the first few memories are happy ones—where they met, what they did on their first date, etc.—but things gradually take a darker tone as the woman realizes her boyfriend is keeping a big secret from her.
Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale – 5 stars
A beautiful and haunting tale of breaking away from physical abuse, this story is told from the perspective of an aging circus elephant. One by one, the members of a sad and crumbling circus realize that they’ve finally had enough of the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of the Ringmaster, and they start the painful process of leaving him. Full of symbolism and gorgeous imagery, this story almost made me cry.
The Hands That Hold, the Lies That Bind – 5 stars
One day, a thirteen year-old girl discovers a thorn has broken through her skin. As strange and upsetting as this is, even worse is her mother’s reaction to it. This story deals with family secrets and the tenuousness of childhood friendships. I loved the oddness of the situation and the raw feelings of a teenager who simply wants to blend in with her peers.
Tooth, Tongue, and Claw – 4.5 stars
This Beauty and the Beast-like story opens the collection, and it’s about a village ruled by a monster, where second born daughters are used as sacrifices to the beast, in order for the village to live peacefully. The narrator is one such unlucky second born daughter who is forced to live as the monster’s plaything, a prisoner who can never return to her home. But unlike the other sacrifices, this girl is determined to escape. In this tale, the villagers are just as monstrous as the monster, and I loved the unexpected ending.
Falling Under, Through the Dark – 4.5 stars
A woman whose young child drowned in a pool blames her husband for neglect, until one day she realizes the horrible truth. The fears of parenthood and the perils of raising a child are common themes in Walters’ stories, and this one was just plain sad. The author uses the idea of drowning as both reality and a metaphor.
The Floating Girls: A Documentary – 4 stars
This weird tale about disappearing reminded me of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode called Out of Mind, Out of Sight. On a particular day, teen girls all over the world began to float up into the sky like balloons. They disappeared, never to be seen again. The story is told in documentary style as the narrator, a friend of one of the floating girls, tells her first hand account of what happened. Sad and eerie, this story is a cautionary tale of what happens to girls who are ignored.
The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter – 4 stars
Men are forgiven for their transgressions; women crucified for theirs even if theirs don’t belong to them.
I loved this story! A woman who works on a space station gets some horrifying news: a notorious serial killer has just been caught, and it turns out he’s her estranged biological father. The story deals with her reaction to the news and how she’s treated by her male coworkers during the resulting uproar. This is an astute look at how far we (sadly) still have to go when it comes to the way women are treated in the workplace. I also loved the references to the movies Alien and Aliens and how the protagonist mulls over whether she wants to be more like Ripley or Vasquez.
Umbilicus – 4 stars
This creepy, Lovecraft-inspired story revolves around a woman whose young daughter disappeared into the ocean one day, and how she’s desperately trying to get her back. I love when stories start out metaphorical but turn to reality, as the mother begins to feel the physical pull of the ocean. Many of these stories make the reader question what’s real and what isn’t.
Within this collection you’ll find nine other beautifully crafted tales, filled with sorrow but also redemption. Fairy tales are the inspiration for several of the stories, and even Stephen King’s Carrie inspires one tale. Walters brings everyday fears to light and twists them into her own brand of horror, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.