Sunday, 28 May 2017

Beautiful Sorrows (2012) by Mercedes M. Yardley - Fantasy eBook Review

My ongoing odyssey to read the multitude of back logged eBooks I own continues with me having just finished reading Mercedes M. Yardley's dark fantasy anthology Beautiful Sorrows. This collection of twenty seven short stories were written over a number of years and are not all horror based. In fact a lot of them are unrelated to horror at all, yet most contain a feeling of malice and sorrow to them dealing as they do with self destructive relationships, and possessive desires to control and own. There also a load that are more whimsical and fairy tale in feeling, I guess in this review I will focus on the more fitting ones for this blog.

I think what I enjoyed most about Yardley's collection is just how much she can do with so little. I enjoyed the short pace of many of these and in many cases this simplified method led to long lasting effects, such as the perfect half page opener Broken that leaves an unsettling insinuation in what is said, Blossom Bones, and the creepy serial killer story Extraordinary Beast. Many of these stories deal with two main characters and the misery that comes from their interactions. This isn't always done in a romantic way (though there are many that are about a boy and a girl) such in the case of The ABCs of Murder that is about a boy trying to find a way to permanently kill a ghost. Also many of these display the worst of humanity with many murderers, psychos and cruel death. This is seen early on with the sad Black Mary (a girl escaping the remote home of her kidnapper/rapist), again with the surreal Axes (someone tied up in a basement by a psychotic house mate), then the heart break of The Quiet Place Where Your Body Grows (a man dealing with the loss of his murdered child).

In addition to these there are plenty of ones that are fairy tale like, or fantasy based that leads to a charming writing style where everything is abstract, like A Place Shielded from Horrors and Crosswise Cosmos Sabotage. These are some of the more interestingly paced ones with more of a fable kind of vibe such in the case of The Boy Who Hangs The Stars, Wings, Stars, the tragic She Called Him Sky, and The Container of Sorrows. The perfect blend of these stories set in more real climates, and more fantastical ones leads up to what I consider to be the most effective and horrific story here; Luna E Volk that seemed to build on the fantasy foundations of past stories to lull you into a false sense of security before shredding your preconceptions apart in a brutal finish that I didn't see coming.

There is such a good mix of stories here, and most of them seem different enough that you never really knew what to expect next. I felt a couple seemed a little bit too similar to each other such as Show Your Bones and Ava, while a few went a bit too over my head to really get an impression of the flow of the story, and some seemed to be going somewhere but then don't (Sweet, Sweet Sonja T). Elsewhere the sense of freedom in these shined through. I loved the open ended Music to Jump By, and the unsettling Heartless, while Pixies Don't Get Names had nothing to do with horror but it had some pretty thought provoking ideas behind it. Final story Big Man Ben was one of the longest here and again was nothing to do with horror but worked well, I could imagine that as a film.

As always I am very rough when it comes to writing book reviews, I'm sure I have not done Beautiful Sorrows justice. The sometimes whimsical nature of these stories may be off putting to some, but the style is consistently charming and there is a lot of care in the craft. While only partly in the realms of horror I enjoyed the dark themes of sorrow here.


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