Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publication Date: 7th February
I was perusing the Vintage website one lunch hour at work and I stumbled across this short story collection. Described as ‘stories that make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused’ – how could I not get my hands on it?!
With my recent growing affection for short story collections I knew I had to read this one. Which I did. In fact I binge read it. Gorging on one fantastic story after another, my jaw dropping.
The first story in the collection is called Bad Boy and oh my goodness what an opener!
Straight off the bat Roupenian hooks you, but then continues to reel you in at a frightening pace until you are horrified but can’t look away. To be honest I was left a little uncomfortable after that first story but in a good way. In a ‘can’t wait to see what she follows THAT with’ way.
These stories tell of the power that women can wield, not always for the greater good. The distinctly different dynamics between men and women in their relationships. The confusion that women can cause men and the subtle or not so subtle ways they can deliver pleasure or pain.
The author apparently wrote a short story which went viral entitled ‘Cat Person’. This story appears in the collection but for me it was the weakest story but still enjoyable, so I guess if you’ve read and enjoyed that one then you’ll love the rest! Whilst writing this review I had to go back and remind myself what it was all about whereas just seeing the titles of the other stories brought them all rushing back in glorious detail.
My favourites are The Boy In The Pool, The Matchbox Sign (a skin tingling, insidiously unsettling tale) and Sardines (the story of one little girls birthday party wish and the power she has over her gathered party guests) . All of which start pretty innocuously and quickly ramp up to a horrific crescendo.
I suppose these are horror stories for the modern age. Not overtly gruesome, typical horror, but very inventive, unique, quirky, gripping and thought provoking horror. Stories to make your brain tick and keep you discombobulated. Having said that I’ve just remembered that the story entitled ‘The Mirror, The Bucket And The Old Thigh Bone is written like a fairytale which was quite refreshing in its delivery.
I really enjoyed Roupenian’s writing style. Pared back and not at all flouncy. Straight to the point and punchy.
This is slightly reminiscent of Lara Williams collection, A Selfie As Big As The Ritz. Maybe on speed……after a few too many shots of vodka. Darker with buckets of shock value.
A very accomplished collection that I would thoroughly recommend to any short story lovers.
Thank you as always to the publisher and particularly Sophie Painter for hooking me up with a proof copy for review.
See you soon.
Amanda @bookishchat xxx