cover image Cry Your Way Home

Cry Your Way Home

Damien Angelica Walters. Apex, $14.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-937009-61-8

This collection of 17 subversive short horror pieces focuses on the ways girls and women, particularly mothers and daughters, intentionally or inadvertently harm one another. Focusing not on the monsters as much as on the bystanders and people in power who enable the horror to proceed, Walters peels back the masks of innocence that cover up sins, such as a mother’s need for some relief that exiles a colicky baby to wail in another dimension (“Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home”) or the missed opportunity to really listen, repeated from mother to daughter, that results in a fatal leap (“On the Other Side of the Door, Everything Changes”). Though the stories feature a number of younger protagonists, they are decidedly aimed at adults, offering an unsparing look at the rivalry between stepsisters competing for parental attention (“Deep Within the Marrow, Hidden in My Smile”) and the bullying of a student whose suicide attempt leaves her scarred in a familiar way (“Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice”). Fairy tales are turned inside out, as in the story of a beauty who does not redeem but instead inhabits her beast (“Tooth, Tongue, and Claw”). Short sharp shocks, finely developed settings, and eloquent prose make this collection a standout. (Jan.)