Thursday, July 8, 2021

Book Review: The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories 
by Mariana Enríquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a creepy, haunting, somewhat depressing collection of stories only get better as the anthology moves from story 1 - 12. It's so creepy I almost felt like Mariana Enriquez wasn't willing to add a story #13 as it would be too much to take.
As someone who loves short stories, and believes it takes a lot of talent to write really good ones, I can honestly say I will be watching Enriquez for future novels. The types of books that get put in Fiction when they should really be in Fantasy or Horror. That is what this collection felt like. Stories that were so real feeling you forgot that the ideas behind them are 'supposed' to be fictional. I have to wonder if all of them (especially story 12) actually are.

Some notes on each story:

Story #1 - Angelina Unearthed
Spooky and melancholic.
"It's weird to see a dead person during the day."

Story #2 - Our Lady of Quarry
Little lost on this one. I need an English professor to explain

Story #3 - The Cart
This is a very normal story with an extreme ending I didn’t see coming. We have social classes, racism, mental capacity and more dividing the world. I think this is an attempt to show how quick poor decisions can be made in heated situations.

Story #4 - The Wall
I find this story difficult to accept. Would a parent or grandparent really condemn their child to take on evil intentionally?"

Story #5 - Rambla Triste
This one gave me shivers. Maybe because it’s 3am and I can’t seem to sleep (lol) or maybe because I’ve been to old European cities with areas that just feel inherently haunted. The old church in Amsterdam on a corner of the red light district was like this for me when I was there years ago. Like someone(s) watching, waiting to ensnare you in their misery.

Story #6 - The Lookout
Chilling, depressing, and creepy ghost story. Ghosts preying on the weak, living, just seems unfair."

Story #7 - Where are you, Dear Heart?
This story made me a bit queasy at the end. Not gonna lie it’s pretty gruesome. Here’s a small taste of where it heads:
"I had to contain that desire, that wish to date myself, to open him up, play with his organs like hidden trophies."

Story #8 - Meat
Pieces of this story remind me of We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix. It’s about a rock star whom influences two teen girls in a terrifying way.
Another gruesome element here; but the obsession is handled really well and comes through in the end. I felt convinced by the end why the whole terrifying scenario.

Story #9 - No Birthdays or Baptisms
I’m not sure the point on this story. It’s beautifully written, as they all are in this anthology, but it doesn’t seem to have a purpose.

Story #10 - Kids Who Come Back
By far the longest story in this anthology. I really expected more. After so many great stories before this one it felt a little flat. Missing some of the creep factor of the stories before. A bit disappointed on this one.

Story #11 - The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
Less paranormal and more real life disturbing. Not even sure I get it but feels like some real madness is bleeding off the page in this super short narrative.
Or maybe I don’t get it as I haven’t smoked in 15+ years? Or never smoked past age 23?

Story #12 - Back When We Talked to the Dead
So as a teen I also played with a Ouija board. And since everyone who goes in my parents basement, where we used it a few sleepover nights, swears year one basement corner is creepy. Doesn’t matter what furniture or décor we put there; hasn’t ever mattered. It’s just a cold spot in an already cold room.
This story felt like the perfect creepy ending to this haunting anthology.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

Short stories seem to be the perfect medium for ghost stories. I feel like I should read them more, but I'm so easily spooked!