Damien Angelica Walters has been on my radar for a while now, ever since the release of her novel Paper Tigers back in 2016. I have that book on my Kindle, although Cry Your Way Home is the first of her work I've actually managed to read thus far. Thankfully, this short story collection is a solid introduction to her skill and range as a storyteller.
Cry Your Way Home collects seventeen of stories that run the gamut from fairy tale to Lovecraftian horror, from psychological thriller to comic book-styled escapades. The majority of these dark works focus on women, predominately as teenagers and young adults, and their relationships, family lives, and places in society, all of which are often upended by the common events of life itself, before being further wrinkled by the intrusion of the supernatural and paranormal. Stories of loss bleed their way into Twilight Zone-esque ghost stories or, as is the case with "The Floating Girls: A Documentary", inexplicable cases of disappearance.
Loss provides one of the major themes across a number of these works, but I found the real spine of the work to be one of transformation. We have adolescent girls on the cusp of their adulthood as women, figures who become monsters, who disappear into others, who are forced into the spotlight and demanded they adapt or perish, and who must assume new roles in order to survive. Tucked in alongside these issues of transformation are questions of identity - who are you once you've been stripped of friends, family, memory, your job, or even life itself? In some instances, the answers are straight-forward; in others, the answers, and perhaps even the right questions, are more nebulous and deeper than the occasional vignette can provide. In these latter, it's up to the reader to provide an outcome and discover meaning, to do a good part of the heavy lifting. This is certainly no bad thing in my accounting.
While Cry Your Way Home presents a generous sample of Walters' capabilities, it also leaves me certain that I now must get to Paper Tigers sooner rather than later. I'm eager to explore more of Walters's works and see what other dark explorations she can lead me toward.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher, Apex Book Company.]
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