It’s officially October, which means everything is available with pumpkin flavoring, there’s a distinct chill in the air, I’m getting excited about boots, my Halloween costume preparations are underway, and it’s undoubtedly the season for spooky tales!
Speaking of spooky tales, I had the pleasure of receiving an advance review copy of Little Paranoias: Stories, the latest short story collection by author Sonora Taylor, and I have to tell you all, it’s atmospheric, unnerving, and addictive. Essentially, it’s the perfect October read. After you put it down, I dare you to not glance over your shoulder every five seconds, listen for those inevitable bumps in the night, and desperately try to discern who around you is, indeed, a monster. (I mean, statistically, this has to be a thing.)
Featuring 20 stories and poems, Little Paranoias turns up the dial on the stuff that scares while also delivering little epiphanies on the human condition. Sure, the book is full of creatures and baddies and horrific happenings, but the most intriguing stories are the ones that cut a little too close to the bone.
“Crust” examines the deadly depths of perfectionism. “Always in my Ear” (one of my favorites in this collection!) explores the sanctity of secrets between friends and our society’s continued obsession with podcasts, especially those of the true crime variety. “Cranberry” explores body dysmorphia and eating disorders. “Hearts are Just ‘Likes’” exposes the dark underbelly of social media and influencer culture. And the opening story, “Weary Bones,” touches on life after death, scientific discoveries gone sideways, and the marginalization of “others.”
Another aspect of Taylor’s writing I consistently enjoy is her ability to craft adept portrayals of nature (and how it bites back at the human race), as exemplified in “Quadropocalype” and “Seed.” In both, her world building is spectacular, especially in light of her brevity. The environments Taylor builds on the page are evocative and cinematic and believable. I would love to read a full-length novel set in nature from her (hint, hint, nudge, nudge), because I’m sure it would be beautiful, immersive, and best of all, freaking terrifying. (If you like “Quadropocalypse” and “Seed,” check out Taylor’s other book of short stories, Wither and Other Stories.)
Other stories in Little Paranoias, particularly “Salt,” “Never Walk Alone,” and “Perfection in Shadow,” deliver on creep factor and smart, twisty endings. The two poems included in this collection evoke the sing-song quality of nursery rhymes—and we all know how dark those can get. Lastly, if you’re a fan of stories that put fresh, complex spins on the trite serial killer trope, this collection is for you.
In short, Little Paranoias is a spooktacular October read from a new and distinct voice in horror fiction. The book will publish on October 22, but you can preorder your copy today!
Also, as a special sneak peek, watch a reading of “Stick Figure Family,” one of the stories in Little Paranoias, by I Am Sterp on her YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyeDwlFpdEQ
Happy hauntings, boys and ghouls!
About Sonora Taylor:
Sonora Taylor is the author of Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was published in Camden Park Press’ Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Taylor’s short stories frequently appear in The Sirens Call, a bi-monthly horror eZine. Her work has also appeared in Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. She is currently working on her third novel. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.
Visit Sonora online at sonorawrites.com.
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