Whether it is short fiction or longer works Sonora Taylor’s name is synonymous with nightmares and disturbing fiction. I’m a huge fan of Taylor’s work and when the opportunity arose to get an ARC of her latest collection ‘Someone to Share My Nightmares’ I enjoyed being able to peek behind the curtain, I stood there quivering as my hand held back the curtain, my knuckles turning white as I gazed upon the new nightmares she’s committed to the page and as I read the beauty of her new horrific tales.
This is an interesting collection that showcases yet again that Taylor is a master of the macabre and her short work is nightmare inducing and soul shredding brilliance – oh and she can write some erotica too, writes it so well it’ll make you blush.
Intro by V Castro – V Castro opens the collection with a fabulous little introduction, which covers some of Taylor’s previous work whilst also dipping its toes into the water of this collection, it all works in whetting the appetite for what is to come!
Someone to Share My Nightmares – I loved this story of the forest and the darkness it houses (the way it was written and the subtle subject matter of it had me reminiscing about ‘Crash’ by JG Ballard), of the horrors it keeps shackled and manacled with vine and thorn – a story of love, lust and lore. I especially liked the way Taylor splices the darkness of this story with the sensual and sexual desires of our protagonist, horror and love, beauty and macabre, sex and death all are fertile ground for horror, each a seed that mighty stories grow from. I also think there is an allegory here for womanhood, and how men want to capture, shape and show women how they should be, how they should be viewed by the world and how they can be tamed – but the forest is our woman and she’ll not be pruned, she’ll not be changed and she will not be told what she can be and how she needs to look, feel or act… I may have gone too deep but that’s what I got from this story.
Petal, Page, Piel – I live in Bristol and there is a museum called the M Shed and within this place is a book, a book with a sordid history, someone had been convicted of a crime and this book was created for and from them. I’ve been wanting to write a story about that book for quite some time, not the book in particular but the idea behind that book, the mechanics of it really. And well, Sonora Taylor beats me to writing that story with this sort flash fiction piece that is as dark as it is beautiful. The attention to detail in this flash are brilliant and give the short piece a powerful impact.
Bump in the Night – A sexually charged woman is waiting for a plumber to come and sort out her pipes and maybe a little something else. But when the plumber arrives our protagonist isn’t ready for the entities that seem to come out of the woodwork to spoil her chance at sex and she lets them know of her displeasure as she sets about banishing them and getting back to business. This is more a comedic horror than what I usually expect from Taylor – although her work has subtle dark humour, this was up front and central and I’m not sure it had the desired effect – for me this one fell a little flat – I didn’t gel with the protagonist so in the end I didn’t really connect or care where the story went.
Metal Meticulous – What you can be guaranteed with Sonora Taylor’s collections is a mixture of form for her storytelling and the same can be said for this collection. In ‘Someone To Share My Nightmares’ we are treated to short stories, flash fiction and now, one of the things I truly enjoy of Taylor’s work poetry – poetry for a long while has been something I’ve always felt above my enjoyment, all floaty words that are all about form than storytelling (James Sale, Eric LaRocca and John Bowie have all helped me see what can be done with poetry and now I add Sonora Taylor to that list)- but Taylor writes poetry the way I like to read it, dark and to the point – and this piece of poetry is right up my dark street.
The Parrot – This story first appeared in ‘We Are Wolves’ the charity anthology by Gemma Amor, Cynthia Pelayo and Laurel Hightower. The Parrot is another smashing story from Taylor’s pen. This one deals with domestic abuse, technology and revenge. The opening to this story blew me away and set the fuse to the bomb that would blow this story wide open. This story is utterly brilliant, really enjoyed the splicing of horror and technology!
Candy – Here we are treated to a slightly dark comedy piece about chocolate and love with a side portion of stalking, mugging and sticking it to the man! This one just tickled me, I love how it ends… very enjoyable. Sonora takes the simplistic, the everyday moments but shakes them until they resemble nightmares… love it!
The Sharps – A longer short story and I really loved the build up to this one, if you’re unaware I do love me a creature feature and this one is right on the money! The beginning of this had me reminiscing about ‘Piranha’ and Hutson’s ‘Slugs’ – it’s creepy, it’s gross abs there appears to be no escape – just what I like. Taylor does a great job to build the isolation into the opening of the story and weaves in the beats that pull this story along greatly… it was a shame it had to end, I could have seen this being expanded into an even longer story as I really enjoyed the character, the uniqueness of the creature and the subtle things that are only hinted at but not fully explored or given reason as to why and how these things have developed. Cracking story!
You Promised Me Forever – A tale of the vampiric, which was actually pretty darn good, I’m not a fan of the vampiric and I’m quite outspoken about that fact, but I do appreciate it when someone tries to take the vampiric and it’s conventions and lore and craft something truly original – and that is what Sonora Taylor has done with ‘You Promised Me Forever’ – it’s a pretty subtle horror and focusses more on character than gore and horror tropes and this I feel is why it worked so well!
‘Tis Better to Want – This one tackles the erotic with an almost Krampus like demon that out protagonist becomes infatuated with as a child, but as she grows her urges to see that beast become more about the callings of the flesh than the fears of a child.
I did really enjoy this collection from Sonora Taylor; but I have to say that although this collection is about horror and the erotic and the relationship of sex within horror; in a couple of the stories (for me at least) these themes did seem to just come out of nowhere and I felt that the story didn’t need that erotic element and if anything it took away the greater impact of the story.
I love Taylor’s work and she’s a must read for me – so do pick up this most interesting and blush inducing of collections.
‘Little Paranoias’ is still my favourite collection but there is enough in this collection to strike the reader dumb with Taylor’s brilliance – including ‘The Parrot’, ‘The Sharps’ and ‘Someone To Share My Nightmares’.
Sonora Taylor is the award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories, Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short stories have appeared in multiple publications, including Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, Kandisha Press’s Women of Horror Vol. 2: Graveyard Smash, The Sirens Call, Frozen Wavelets, Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. Her latest book, Seeing Things, is now available on Amazon. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.
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