Monday 21 January 2019

BREATHE. BREATHE. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe. Breathe.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After hearing a lot of great things about this collection on Twitter, I decided to pick up a copy for my Paperwhite. And I'm glad I did, because it truly is wonderfully dark.

I love that this collection has such a bright cover, yet holds so much darkness within its pages. There's a lot of horror, violence and fear trapped inside this book, but also plenty of hope.

The book is broken into three sections:

Act One - Breathe Through: FEAR is full of macabre and wicked poems that filled my mind with the creatures that hide in the shadows, and the monsters lying in wait. Hell, sometimes that monster might even be you.

Act Two - Breathe Through: PAIN is full of sad and heartbreaking poems about abuse that tear you apart, yet somehow help to make you whole again by the end of each one.

Short Stories contains some pretty good tales, too. I really enjoyed the three short Valhalla Lane pieces dealing with abuse and revenge. I got a real kick out of how these poor women dealt with their awful abusers, and liked how the newspaper clipping at the end wrapped everything up.

Revenge stories don't always have to feature a man with a gun. Sometimes it's a beaten-down woman who can't take anymore abuse.

I found The Madness of the Woodpecker reminiscent of Poe, and loved the surreal feel of it. Especially how it comes together at the end. Lunch Served at Noon was a trippy tale that starts with heartache and ends with some imaginative pseudo-SF stuff that was really unexpected. Life-Giver of the Nile was one of those stories that mixes contemporary life with myth in a mystical way that can only lead to terrible things. Although I loved all of these stories, the devastation that eventually dawned on me about what is really going on in Dandelion Yellow made it my favourite. It was just so good!

I think this collection of poem and prose, about the fantastical dangers found in the dark followed by the raw reality of the human monsters who are even worse, is an amazing experience. All the pieces are well written and totally worm their way into your heart and mind, until you can't do anything but feel the full brunt of their heavy emotion.

The issues dealt with in this book aren't pretty and not for the faint-hearted, but everything is written in a way that captivates its audience.

And for that alone, you should check this out.

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