*I received an advance copy of this collection of short stories in exchange for an honest review.*
In her debut collection, Christa Carmen combines horror, charm, humor, and social critique to shape thirteen haunting, harrowing narratives of women struggling with both otherworldly and real-world problems. From grief, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, to a post-apocalyptic exodus, a seemingly sinister babysitter with unusual motivations, and a group of pesky ex-boyfriends who won’t stay dead, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction.
Christa presents us with a collection of short horror stories that are nothing short of unique. I just love short story collections – it’s like waiting with anticipation for my favorite show to wrap up a season, and then I binge watch the entire season over the course of two nights. Apparently, I like my viewing and reading experience to be broken up into little self-contained but similar chunks.
But, I digress.
Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked contains 13 stories meant to give you the creeps. If it’s not a scary story, it’s at least an unnerving story that leaves you thinking. Overall I think that Christa is a strong writer. She knows how to tell a story with just enough detail to help you paint the mental image, but not so much detail that the pace of the story is negatively affected. The stories are creative with twists and turns that are pretty unique, and with colorful main characters that one could relate to.
I think my two favorite stories are “Souls, Dark and Deep” and “Lady of the Flies.” When I was reading “Souls, Dark and Deep” I kept thinking that this should be turned into a movie. I’d totally watch this in the dark and try not to be creeped out by it. So, so creative. I had fun imagining the magic going on there. “Lady of the Flies” is a story where my heart broke for the main character over how she’s treated, then became delightfully horrified in what she does in revenge. This one would be a cool flick, too.
“A Fairy Plant in Grief” is a close third. It’s very short, but it’s heartbreaking and creepy at the same time. My kind of story.
There were just a few of the stories that really didn’t pull me in. They were well-written and all, but they just didn’t capture my interest. These were “This Our Angry Train” and “The One Who Answers the Door.”
Overall, I really enjoyed Christa’s writing style, horror plots and cast of characters. Very enjoyable read!
Praise for Christa Carmen
“Christa Carmen’s ‘Red Room’ is a different beast altogether. This story has some wicked imagery, a sinister and brooding atmosphere and a terrific ending. I’d go as far to say that this is one of the best short stories Unnerving has published in the magazine.” – The Grim Reader
“I was pulled in from the first story: ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,’ by Christa Carmen. It was also one of my favorites and I have to say that the title gave me a dark chuckle when paired with the band mentioned in the story.” – Sci-Fi and Scary
“This beautifully macabre collection of urban legends and ghastly encounters is a cold whisper, a dripping axe, a shattered camera lens. Walk carefully into Carmen’s night. But if you hear flies, run.” -Stephanie M. Wytovich, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Brothel.