Bunny

A novel of splendidly weird fiction by Mona Awad

5/5 Star Review

I have seen a lot of rave reviews for Bunny and the description sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a read — and I am so glad that I did! That being said, there is so much to unpack in this book that I honestly am not even sure where to start.

Samantha Heather Mackey is an outsider at Warren University, an exclusive New England school where she is working on her MFA in the Narrative Arts department. The book begins with the start of her final year, her last semester of Workshop, which she attends with four nearly interchangeable girls who all call each other Bunny. They are rarely apart; they eat miniature food and sweet treats; they praise each other’s work; they move and speak as one; they are a hive mind. Samantha is equally disgusted by them and jealous of their closeness. One day, she receives an invitation from the Bunnies – an invitation that leads her on the path to joining them in a very experimental off-campus Workshop, a way of expressing themselves beyond the written narrative.

At its heart, it’s a Mean Girls story – it’s a Heathers story, delivered allegorically, metaphorically, and at times, quite literally. Somehow Awad seamlessly blends these devices into an extremely relatable story. It’s hard to define the genre for this title any more specifically than weird fiction. Awad has masterfully blended the genres as perfectly as she has the literary devices.

I honestly think this is a book that you need to go into a little blind. To reveal much more of the plot would be to rob you of the full experience of this novel – and experience it you should! This is absolutely not a book to miss! Highly recommended!

Westlake Soul

A soul-shattering novel by Rio Youers

5/5 Star Review

“Then I soared toward the sun, breaking through the exosphere into outer space, until – ninety-three million miles from home- I arrived at my destination. I threw my arms open and let it burn me. Ten thousand Fahrenheit. The world’s light. The world’s love. But still it couldn’t make up for what I had lost.”

This book… This wonderful, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking book. It has been years since a novel has had this kind of impact on my life. It will make you rethink what you thought you knew about life and death and the things, the feelings, that truly matter.

I’m not going to use this space to recap the premise, I couldn’t do it justice. Even if you’ve read the synopsis on the back of the book, it would not prepare you for the story of Westlake Soul – and it is a beautiful story. Written with words, but told in colors, emotions, touch, and landscapes.

Rio Youers is well-known in the horror community, but this little book defies genre. Relatively short, at 243 pages, it hits hard and leaves you broken. That being said, it also leaves you with the hope you need to “rebuild” yourself into someone stronger, someone who appreciates more, someone who lives life, someone who changes lives.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime book that you need to read. I can’t recommend it enough, and I will never stop recommending it.

Westlake Soul was published in 2012 by ChiZine Publications and is, unfortunately, out of print. Due to the recent resurgence of this book, second-hand copies have become extremely expensive. I was lucky enough to find a copy in my local library system and you can bet I will be hunting for a copy out in the wild!

13 Views of the Suicide Woods

A short story collection by Bracken MacLeod

5/5 Star Review

I have been toying with the idea of starting a book review blog for the past several months. My life is fairly hectic and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep it as timely as I feel it should be. I then read 13 Views of the Suicide Woods and realized that it doesn’t matter how often I am posting – what matters is that I am hopefully encouraging others to pick up amazing books that they might not otherwise read.

Short stories, when written well, are the perfect medium for horror. They have just enough story, just enough character development, that when they end they pack a serious punch. 13 Views of the Suicide Woods does just that – Nineteen stories that each hit hard in their own way. There is a smattering of the supernatural, but most of the stories revolve around the cruelty and the pain that we inflict on each other as human beings.

A few of the standout stories for me were The Boy Who Dreamt He Was a Bat, about a boy who desperately wishes he could fly away; All Dreams Die in the Morning, about a man’s past, present, and future; Blood of the Vine, about a college girl’s getaway to help heal after a traumatic event; and This Last Little Piece of Darkness, a man’s letter recounts his youth.

Honestly, there isn’t a weak story in this collection – all are extraordinarily well-rounded and well-written. It has been some time since I have read a book that left me so anxious and as ready for the book to end as I wished it never would. This was my first read from Bracken MacLeod and it will not be my last.