This is one horror collection that no shelf should be without.
I have been hearing a lot of love for this writer and this collection of stories, and it is completely justified. The hype is real, y'all! Go out and buy your copy immediately—no joke.
The stories felt in the tradition of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, with a mix of fairy tale elements like the twist on a poisoned apple story or the tale of princesses stuck in castles, some strangeness that could be read as metaphorical but also worked as great body horror like the one where a woman is giving birth to birds or the one where a group of women hunt for potential victims and peel their skin off to use for themselves.
In these stories, Kiste explores women at the fringes—the outcasts, the strange, the othered. The stories are interested in how these women are seen as outsiders and how they work with the limitations others have put on them and overcome them in one way or another.
I loved how the characters in these stories take action. They are not the stagnant, mopey, unreliable narrator types that are so common in the popular thrillers today. These women are powerful and have clear, strong notions of what they want from the world, even if that notion is not the one that lines up with what everyone else wants. Kiste's character's learn they aren't afraid to take what should have been theirs all along. It's empowering and beautiful while leaning over the edge into strange, fantastical, and frightening.
Sometimes the stories defy logic, sometimes they go to very dark places, but they never failed to impress me with the breadth of their creativity, the beauty of the language, and the sharp insights that are not something you always find in horror fiction.
A beautiful and haunting collection. There is not a weak story in the set. Kiste is an author I'm adding to my instant-buy list.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.