Out Of Water: Sarah Read
Reviewed By Yolanda Sfetsos
- Print Length: 207 pages
- Publisher: JournalStone – Trepidatio Publishing (25 Oct. 2019)
I always enjoy reading anthologies and author short story collections, and this one really caught my eye. Not just because of the lovely cover, but also because I was interested in checking out this author’s writing.
Here’s what I thought of each story:
ENDOSKELETAL: Everyone loves a good and creepy story about finding weird archaeological relics inside a cave. Even though we all know it’s a bad idea, human curiosity always wins and the character/s do something stupid. As expected, things don’t go as expected in this freaky situation.
MAKING MONSTERS: I love how Miss Ricky’s story starts out simple but a few paragraphs in, totally throws you. And keeps doing that all the way to the end. This is a wicked little tale about a person who looks good on the outside, but is totally rotten on the inside. Oh, and it’s also a lot of fun!
DEAD MAN’S CURVE: This tale about two men chasing a Winnebago and burying things left me feeling hollow. I couldn’t connect with either of them, or the story. I even got lost a few times, and it wasn’t because of the unfamiliar roads. LOL.
IN TONGUES: Holy shit, that was totally messed up! It repulsed me and made me angry, but I loved it. Religious zealots are such hateful creatures who push their self-righteous bullshit onto others, and this was a horrid example. Ugh.
I really liked Miranda, and felt so bad for her. But I did appreciate her one act of rebellion against these assholes.
THE EYES OF SALTON SEA: A very atmospheric tale about the day the sea decided to turn its back on people and the treasure hunters determined to dive into its depth. But things aren’t as they seem, and when the truth is revealed it’s wickedly awesome.
UNDERWATERTHING: This is one messed up story about a horrid character, abuse, a sea monster and the ultimate revenge. While it’s a great story, it’s also a very uncomfortable one to read.
TALL GRASS, SHALLOW WATER: Very dark story that comes full circle and is very well written. Really enjoyed the vivid imagery and the surreal, wet feel of it. Plus, I loved the last line.
INTERSECT: This is a short but definitely not sweet nightmare about a woman’s sad wonderings about a life that is happier, where she hasn’t lost everything and everyone.
GRAVE MOTHER: Another sad story about motherhood and loss, told in a way where every word paints a very sad picture.
THORN TONGUE: The interesting and strange journey of a mother that never-was and never-should-have-been. Strange and melodic, so full of poison that my mind was bubbling with it.
THROUGH GRAVEL: Oh wow. I loved this one! Ever wondered why flowers and patches of grass grow in concrete paths and brick walls? I have. I always take notice, and that’s why I enjoyed the hell out of this. You see, there are Kindred living in the understreets and they have their own ways and customs. But when one particular little girl arrives, she changes everything. Such an awesome story.
STILL LIFE WITH NATALIE: I started reading this and realised I’d already read it in an anthology. It’s nicely written, but this one was too predictable and cruel in an unappealing way.
GOLDEN AVERY: A very uncomfortable and quite gross story about the scars bullying leave behind and just how toxic friendship can become. Not to mention obsession with being skinny and getting rid of fat in the most gruesome way possible. Wicked.
SCAVENGERS: Interesting tale about a housemaid who works in a very strange school for young ladies. And proves that everyone is a scavenger in their own way. Very clever and bizarre.
THE EYE LIARS: Another surreal and quite gross story about illness and shadows, featuring a bunch of not-so nice guys. The narrator was especially annoying.
MAGNIFYING GLASS: Yikes. This was something. And unexpected, because although I suspected what was going on, where the story ends up is quite disturbing.
CROSSWIND: Tumultuous story about storms, greed and ambition. Liked the storm personifications and how it ends.
RENOVATION: Haunting tale about two sisters, an old house, big dreams, fresh starts and the awful memories that threaten to destroy them both.
Well, that was quite the collection! Although each one deals with a different bunch of characters and varying situations, they all had one thing in common: their surreal and nightmarish quality. Each of these tales threw me headfirst into the middle of so many lives, and took me on wild and vivid rides full of grotesque imagery.
Some are hard to read because the characters are awful or problematic. Others feature characters I felt sorry for. There are vengeful tales that had me cheering, and others that made me sad. But they were all intriguing and beautifully written. I also think many of the stories are quietly feminist, deal with a lot of issues girls and women face but aren’t supposed to be talked about. There’s no better way to show some of these than by the beauty of horror.
Out of Water is a great collection that uses lyrical words to paint some lovely and quite ugly pictures. Sarah Read’s writing pulled me so deeply into each tale that I felt like I was slipping from one waking nightmare and into another.
This is definitely a book anyone who enjoys the art of a good short story should check out.
Out Of Water
These are the stories of things out of water–of sea bed deserts choked with ghosts; of the lonely, roving children of the fen. Here your garden grows belowground. You will be born into a cradle of your own bones, shadows will burst from your eyes, and your mouth will fill with thorns. Storms will twist inside you, and the ghosts of your past will follow you and chart your future.
Here, things are out of place–ectopic and unviable–and you will mourn the unborn, those underwater things out of water.
Yolanda Sfetsos lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome, supportive gamer husband and neurotic, photogenic kitty.
When she’s not writing or reading up a storm, she’s either out walking, watching a movie or TV show, checking thrift stores for bargain books, or thinking about the new dark ideas fighting for attention.
Breaking The Habit
All Isla wanted to do was enjoy her honeymoon.
She was looking forward to relaxing on the beach and enjoying cocktails with the love of her life.
Instead, she ends up in the middle of the woods in a cosy cabin, where the past she’s worked so hard to bury can find her.
Turning what should be the best night of her life, into a bloody fight to stay alive.