Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Microreview [book]: Singing with All My Skin and Bone by Sunny Moraine

Some songs are better than others...

Sunny Moraine’s Singing with all My Skin and Bone contains nineteen stories ranging from the fantastic to the horrific to the thoroughly strange and sci-fi. Despite the shift in genres, the tone throughout maintains a consistency so that each story seamlessly leads into the next. While the stories are well arranged and seem emotionally consistent, there are drastic differences in how well the stories hit the reader.

When the stories work they really work. One of my favorite pieces was the absolutely eerie “Event Horizon” which tells of two childhood friends and a very hungry house. The set-up is a familiar one (it’s not so far removed from Monster House), but Moraine lends the story such a chilling sensibility and the characters are fully realized. The premise is horrific, but the real horrors might be the ones inflicted on the narrator simply by seeming different than the other children of the small town. Equally compelling is the final story in the collection, “The Throat is Deep and the Mouth is Wide,” which uses a sci-fi concept (people go to space and come back needing someone to talk to) to explore loneliness and loss in an original and haunting manner.

However, on the other side of the excellent pieces are some that feel incomplete ( such as the at first utterly unique, but ultimately disappointing, “Dispatches from a Hole in the World”). More hampering than those stories, however, are the ones that read as just not interesting. Moraine’s writing is often beautiful and Moraine’s voice is always clear and unique, but that ultimately doesn’t lift up some of the more opaque stories in the collection—almost all of the stories written to a “you” never quite have the impact that a reader (or, at least, this reader) wants them to. Often I found myself getting antsy during these pieces, eager to move on to a new story.

Ultimately, this is a mixed collection. It’s very well put together on a thematic/tonal level, but ultimately there are too many pieces that could be skipped over. Still, there are some stories that are so perfect, that I’d recommend Moraine’s writing and the book—if one doesn’t mind that sometimes you have to go through some so-so pieces in order to get to the real gems.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 6/10

Bonuses: +1 for a few truly gorgeous stories, +1 for a cohesive feeling overall to the collection

Penalties: -1 for some skippable stories

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 “a mostly enjoyable experience”


POSTED BY: Chloe, speculative fiction fan in all forms, monster theorist, and Nerds of a Feather blogger since 2016.