Review of Christa Carmen’s Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

Publishing Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Unnerving Press
Page Length: 282 pages

A young woman’s fears regarding the gruesome photos appearing on her cell phone prove justified in a ghastly and unexpected way. A chainsaw-wielding Evil Dead fan defends herself against a trio of undead intruders. A bride-to-be comes to wish that the door between the physical and spiritual worlds had stayed shut on All Hallows’ Eve. A lone passenger on a midnight train finds that the engineer has rerouted them toward a past she’d prefer to forget. A mother abandons a life she no longer recognizes as her own to walk up a mysterious staircase in the woods.

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When it comes to debut works of authors, sometimes there’s more of a benefit to publish a collection of short stories over a novella/novel. This is because short story collections allow readers to see the different styles and tones throughout the various stories than just the one in a novel. Readers can distinguish if authors perhaps can offer more.

Christa Carmen’s Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a perfect example of this. Carmen offers us thirteen different stories, ranging from Supernatural to Occult to Bizzaro, each with unique ideas interrogated into them. It’s clear that Carmen backs her ideas, and has a certain writing style that allows her to get the best out of them. However, not all of them are perfect.

The main problem that the stories (and the collection overall) has, is that the author perhaps pays too much respect to the readers, which is a common factor for debut works. Carmen sets up the stories well, hooks us in, but there is a need to take the reader by the hand, before throwing them into the deep end. ‘The Red Room’, which is a favourite of this reviewer, reads almost like a short film; it’s picturesque, but it seems that every bit of detail is left in there that by the time you reach the conclusion, you know what’s going to happen. Now, some stories’ endings are effective, such as ‘The Fairy Plant of Grief’, which shows that Carmen can top off a good story.

Now, this isn’t to say Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a bad collection; it most certainly isn’t. It’s stronger than most debut works from authors. Christa Carmen is a very clever writer, even maybe too clever. She needs toll one the reader to do some work. However, it is something I’m sure she can fix as her writing career progresses.

***1/2 out *****

If you are interested in finding out more about Christa and this collection, The Horror Club recently had a chat with her. Find it here:

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