Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked — Christa Carmen

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

TITLE: Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked
AUTHOR: Christa Carmen
RELEASES: August 21st, 2018; Unnerving
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult

SYNOPSIS: A young woman’s fears regarding the gruesome photos appearing on her cell phone prove justified in a ghastly and unexpected way. A chainsaw-wielding Evil Dead fan defends herself against a trio of undead intruders. A bride-to-be comes to wish that the door between the physical and spiritual worlds had stayed shut on All Hallows’ Eve. A lone passenger on a midnight train finds that the engineer has rerouted them toward a past she’d prefer to forget. A mother abandons a life she no longer recognizes as her own to walk up a mysterious staircase in the woods.

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.

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I always love a good horror collection, and when I was offered this one, it felt implied that the stories were not only spooky, but also feminist in nature, which immediately hooked my interest. I will say that there are a lot of feminist notes to the tales, as well as subversion of some tropes here and there, though it wasn’t enough to make this anthology a complete winner for me.

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There are definitely a few gems in the collection, such as:

  • Red Room, in which a woman tries to warn her boyfriend about the terrifying, bloody photos that keep mysteriously appearing on her phone—but nobody ever listens to the women, do they?
  • All Souls of Eve, a Halloween retelling of Ebenezer Scrooge’s tale—except this time, the ghosts are dead ex-boyfriends, and they’re just as toxic in the afterlife as they were when Eve dated them.
  • Lady of the Flies, a story full of secondhand awkwardness and cringe-inducing grossness, albeit dimmed slightly by a lackluster back story.

Unfortunately, the other ten stories in the collection were mostly 3-star reads for me.

The most bothersome aspect for me is how heavily it relied on repetition of drug-related narratives. I know that the synopsis mentions substance abuse as one of the themes, but I think nearly half of the stories featured drug usage and/or characters with addictions. While I have no problem reading about addiction, it reached the point of repetition.

On one hand, many of the tales had serious potential; I think Christa Carmen shows definite potential as a writer, and I’d love to see where she goes with it, but the vagueness of most of the characters’ motives frustrated me, and on a more personal “pet peeve” note, the over-usage of similes in descriptive text kept jarring me out of the story, especially when there were multiple in a paragraph. All in all, though, I still enjoyed myself quite a bit while reading!

All in all, if you’re looking for a unique and feminist collection of indie horror, go ahead and give this one a try. I’m definitely willing to check out more of this author’s work in the future, because I think she has potential to go far, but this collection just didn’t quite “wow” me.

Thank you so much to the publicist for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Content warnings for violence, death, abduction, slut-shaming, abuse, suicide, alcoholism, addiction, drug usage, animal death, torture, mutilation, sexual assault, and self-harm.

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

6 thoughts on “Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked — Christa Carmen

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t end up loving this! It definitely looks like it’s still worth trying, so I intend to give it a shot. Great review, per usual. 🙂

    Like

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