Metamorphosis: Claire Fitzpatrick
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
If you’re looking for a short story collection with variety, Metamorphosis by Claire Fitzpatrick is a great choice. The lineup offers diverse plots, rich themes, and a range of speculative fiction subgenres, including paranormal, dark fantasy, science fiction, and body horror. Not all the stories hit the mark for me, but because of the mixture presented there’s something for almost everyone.
Thematically this is a heavy book, sidestepping surface jump-scares to contemplate self-harm, substance abuse, feelings of alienation, loss and despair. These seventeen stories don’t offer happy endings, most without a glimmer of hope from the onset, dragging the reader deep into the gloom. When faced with tales like these, readers often wonder what the author must have gone through to want to commit such dark thoughts to paper, and those answers are here too. At the beginning of the collection is a brief introduction by Fitzpatrick, candidly discussing her struggles with Epilepsy and Borderline Personality Disorder. I know some people skip author introductions, but don’t with this one.
To give you a sense of what Metamorphosis holds, here are a few of the stories which really captivated me.
“Transplant” enters the realm of science fiction where Lilith received a 3D printed heart replacement from INTEGRATE eight years ago. She’s now at the end of the “rent-to-own” contract for the organ, but as a single parent she’s unable to scrape together enough money to buy her heart. INTEGRATE doesn’t negotiate, though exchanging one life for another isn’t off the table. This is a quick read, but rife with tension, touching on the realities of corporations providing health services.
My favourite was “Senses,” which I also found to be the darkest in the collection. Addiction, grief, and self-mutilation infuse themselves into every aspect of Alison’s life. She struggles against loss – the death of her mother, abandonment of her father, and loss of herself. Beautifully written, this story is like a haunting fever dream transporting you into Alison’s broken existence.
If you find violence against animals too disturbing to read, then “The Dog” may not be for you. However, for readers who can handle it, this story is a gem. School-aged girl Jean is angry at the world and takes out her frustrations on an abandoned dog. Every second of this story is uncomfortable, and not just because of what Jean does. The message between the lines is heartbreaking, as you consider what type of environment she’s been raised. At one point she says to her friend, “Dogs think they’re so tough with their stupid barks and their stupid sharp claws. But they can be broken, just like you and me.” Powerful stuff!
As much as I did enjoy this collection, there were some sections that could have used a touch more editing. Instances where characters seemed to switch names, a few inconsistencies within specific stories, and repetitive use of names between unrelated stories, all detracted from the otherwise excellent writing. Those small flaws aside, Metamorphosis has a lot to offer and is worth a read.
KR: You can read the Kendall Reviews Interview with Claire Fitzpatrick HERE
Madeline will never become a woman. William will never become a man. Does June deserve to be human? Does Lilith deserve a heart?
Seventeen stories. Seventeen tales of terror.
If imperfection is crucial to a society’s survival, what makes a monster?
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan