Epeolatry Book Review: This is My Body, Given for You by Heather Parry
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Title: This is My Body, Given for You
Author: Heather Parry
Genre: Contemporary Horror, Short Stories, Weird Fiction
Publisher: Haunt Publishing
Release Date: 11th May, 2023
Synopsis: A girl suffering a bizarre menstrual aberration is exploited by those around her, including her father. A boy expresses his love for a nonhuman man by making himself animalistic. A girl abandoned by her community discovers the possibility of transmutation through cannibalism. A man struggles with his wife’s choices around her existence, and considers whether he should leave her alone in her semi-oblivion, or join her.
In This Is My Body, Given For You, Heather Parry places in our hands fifteen stories in which the body is something that can be changed, altered, and escaped from. With dripping blood, bruised tentacles, and seamed skin, Heather Parry’s debut short story collection will consume you.
What I loved about all these shorts was how the writer never felt the need to explain. Weird fiction is often defined as unpredictable, compelling, and moody. Parry hit all three marks with expertise. Her way with show and tell means wielding metaphors and similes like poetic weapons. I think I found a new favorite author! I cringed at several moments, gasped at others, and wondered, Did I really just read that? I don’t know if she was raised Catholic, but you can’t help noticing the undercurrent, if the title wasn’t obvious enough. Catholics are no strangers to violence, horror, and gore—ever read the Bible? Parry’s unique twist in nestling each story under a label allowed me to think about them in a light I might not have seen.
“Amelia Magdalene” is the subject of a bloody miracle. Visually graphic and a bit sacrilegious, I found myself drawn to the mother’s strange circumstances as much as I was to the child’s miracle.
“The Bastard-Octopus” nods to the wrestling world. It made me think of Marvel’s Dr. Octopus and what it would be like in his head before he became the villain.
“The Small Island” has a dark and dreary atmosphere, as expected. But what was not expected is how one child grows to call that lonely island home.
“Mr Fox” focuses on a very real therian, someone we may have all been acquainted with at some point in our lives. I found the story tragic, but others might consider it as more of a rebirth.
“The Professional” deals with two professional women whose completely different profession requires each woman to put her sex on display to other professionals. But here’s an interesting take–no sexual intercourse was involved.
“Three Tales of Woe at The Love Factory, Kilmarnock” offers three connected tales of wretched need, each more visceral and disparaging and disturbing than the next.
“Husband into Hen” is one of my favorites. A comedy. (Yes, I’m married.) This was not a punishment, nor a pissed off wife who wished her husband harm. It was bewildering, but still suspended my disbelief.
“Til Death Do Us Parts”–where Dr. Frankenstein meets Corpse Bride. That movie comparison doesn’t quite capture it, but nothing out there will.
“Coo” is my second favorite. At first sad, it transmogrified into a story of revenge. Imagine a baby girl who’s been neglected and victimized to the point where she becomes a vengeful Lilith-meets-Baba Yaga.
“Wet Like Jelly”–a relatable tragedy along the child abduction trope, with a twist, of course.
“Human Mummy Confection”, told in second person point of view where the author addresses “you”, is a sickening-sweet love story gone wrong.
“A Meal for the Man in Tails” is my third favorite. It’s a sad story about loss, a tragedy no doubt. It’s delicious, and pure emotion.
“I Am Your Wrasse” breaks the fourth wall. A strong character will change by the end in any good narrative. But this unforeseen happy ending proved endearing.
“Fermentation” belonged under the vengeance label, as far as I was concerned. Disturbing and blasphemous. Yes, it had a satisfying ending (Burp).
“Choose Your Own” is very much like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books, but this fun little surprise kept me on a roller coaster. I chose A through to the end. Then I went back and chose B. But the reader can mix and match while reading.
I’m a fan of anthology shows like Black Mirror, Love Death + Robots, Electric Dreams, and Inside No.9. But I have to say that if this were ever streamed, I’d definitely binge watch and my jaw would be in my lap!
Available from Haunt Publishing.
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Catherine Jordan is the new review coordinator for Horrortree.com. She’s a horror movie fan and a horror novelist, although she edits and writes in many genres. Ms. Jordan has been featured in a variety of anthologies, on-line publications, and print magazines. It was her pleasure to serve as judge for the Bram Stoker Award and for the ITW Young Adult Award. Catherine also facilitates writing courses and critique groups. She credits her five children with inspiring her writing material.