4/5 Stars for “Brothel” and “Hysteria” by Stephanie M. Wytovich

If you like dark poetry, you’ve heard her name before. As a long-time fan of her work, I recently gave myself the kick in the seat to actually post reviews of her collections. I’ve only just started Sheet Music to my Acoustic Nightmare, but I have a feeling that’ll be a 5 star rating.

In the meanwhile, here are my thoughts on Hysteria: A Collection of Madness.

No surprise this was nominated for a Bram Stoker award. Horror poetry is hard to come by, but when done right, it’s really compelling. Such is the case with this collection, the debut release of one of the rising stars of dark verse. A few poems didn’t thrill me, but I’m an occult snob, so 666 does nothing for me. Beyond that, these are certainly inventive, and great for anyone looking for horror, poetry, both, or just a solidly good read–or one hell of a coffee table book!

And now, a slightly longer, in-depth review of Brothel.

This truly epic collection of poems by Bram Stoker-winner Stephanie Wytovich continues to combine eloquence with gritty topics. A book titled “Brothel” containing poems like “From Behind” and “Naked” isn’t shy about its contents, and each poem, like another position in the Kama Sutra, embraces a new way to talk about the sleaze and sin of the world’s oldest profession.

The book isn’t all the joys of getting paid to get laid. Some pieces recount struggling with addiction and disorder, while others tell of violent clients who get off on beatings and brandings, but this isn’t a narrator who goes down quietly. This is a fierce collection, told by a narrator who refuses to be a victim. She destroys her abusers, whether physically or through her own voracious appetite, calling to mind Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”: “Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ and I eat men like air.”

Brothel is a book that knows sex is about power, in which succumbing to temptation is simply a part of life. While some individual poems fall flat compared to the more impressive ones, this collection is more than worth the money, so don’t worry. If you’re tempted to read this, hit buy. You’re in for a real good time.

Whether you like or agree with my reviews, you really should be reading her work, so check out the links above to find them on Amazon.

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4/5 Stars for “Death to Fairy Tales” by Alex S. Johnson

In the mood for something weird? I recently took a look at Death to Fairy Tales. Here’s my review, also posted on Amazon.

Be forewarned: this isn’t a collection of horror or of fairy tales, as you might assume, but an array of some of the strangest, most bizarre stories and poems out there. Granted, there are horror elements I won’t spoil for you, but lets just say that when you ‘meat’ some of these characters, you’ll be glad you don’t know them in real life.

Some parts of the prose are a little too abstract to have a solid landing, but those that work do so quite well. The poetry is more concrete, and the lines that aren’t are mysterious enough to work on multiple levels, leaving the reader thinking rather than confused. One reads, “Future tense/ thrummed its fingers through/ all subsequent galleries,” capturing an ethereal sense of the world that perfectly sums up the New Weird vibe of this collection.

“Death to Fairy Tales” is a kaleidoscopic reinterpretation of the world, and while some of these visions aren’t always clear, they’re all fascinating. Some even have accompanying illustrations, for those of you that enjoy such additions. Perfectly capturing the sense of jamais vu, the strange among the familiar, this is a great collection for those looking for more unusual work.

The collection can be found here.

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4/5 Stars for “Horror Haiku: Pas de Deux” by A. F. Stewart

Sometimes, I post lengthy reviews. Others, short and sweet. For a collection of mostly Haiku poetry, you can guess which I went with.

“Tons of good poems in here! As with any collection, they aren’t all winners, and some rely too heavily on genre tropes to convey their scares, but there are many sections overviewing different horror staples. Vampires, zombies, you name it, they’re in here, along with a non-haiku section at the end.

While there are other collections out there more suited to seasoned horror readers, this a great book for those looking to get into dark poetry.”

Check the collection out here.

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