Genre: Magical Realism, Short Stories Published: Picador, May 2019 My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“Before him, she had often wondered whether solitude was a skill one could lose, like schoolgirl latin. Or whether it was simply a talent one acquired, bikelike, never afterwards forgotten.”
A mesmerizing collection magical realism of short stories from a debut author that I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for in the future.
This collection gave me major Kirsty Logan-, Jen Campbell- and Samantha Hunt- vibes, which automatically lets you know it was very much up my alley. It consists of 9 tales that explore themes of female adolescence, body, love and change, whilst consistently balancing the tightrope of the line between reality and bizarre imagination.
Julia Armstrong has a beautiful way with words and imagery, where she turns the average upside down and inside out, to show what’s at its core emotionally.
As a whole it’s a well-balanced collection that feels coherent, and I liked the majority of stories with the exception of only one.
As with any magical realism, there is going to be an element of hit-or-miss based on personal taste. I think the backflap and title (including the stunning cover) do a great job of representing the books content:
“women become insects, men turn to stone, a city becomes insomniac and bodies are picked apart to make up better ones”…
If that’s the kind of description that draws you in, this is most likely going to be a book for you, as it was for me.
Ratings per story: - Mantis: 4/5 - The Great Sleep 4/5 - The Collectables 2/5 - Formally Feral 3/5 - Stop your Womens Ears with wax 3/5 - Granite 5/5 - Smack 4/5 - Cassandra After 5/5 - Salt Slow 5/5
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