I am a fan of Holly Black's dark creepy writing, where characters find themselves in very dark odd places or circumstances. So, imagine my happiness when I saw her short story anthology book: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. Better yet, I found it in audiobook form (and I love this format), yes, I *squealed* when I saw that Holly herself narrates this compilation! I had great small pleasures with this book, listening in short walks, errands, and devoting entire moments just sitting down to hear Holly... it took me almost a year to finish.
During this reading experience, I created a handful of memories of these stories: some where just forgotten, some lingered and others I am already re-visiting.
There are 12 stories in this book:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
A Reversal of Fortune
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Night Market
The Dog King
In Vodka Veritas
The Coat of Stars
Paper Cuts Scissors
The Land of Heart’s Desire
The Poison Eaters
From these, I loved the first one, which also became a full length standalone novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Night Market, The Coat of Stars and Paper Cuts Scissors. These are all dark, gritty, sad, happy and hopeful.
I personally believe that the beauty of this collection is how each character must challenge or face a obstacle that forces them to make choices and learn something about themselves. It also has superb descriptions, events and surroundings, so different from one another.
Matilda, from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, is scared about her infection and wants to keep away from everything and everyone she knows so she wont pass her vampiric disease. But then, she restores to highlight how horrible and un-human is this disease once it hits you, in an attempt to shatter any romanticized notion of vampirism. This tidbit is a wonderful place to start with Holly's stories.
Tomasa from The Night Market, is a true heroine. Her sister is sick because and enkanto's spell. Her determination and resourcefulness are a true beauty to enjoy. I loved the ending of the story!
Rafael Santiago from The Coat of Stars, is also a tale of bargaining with supernatural characters, but a tale of love. I found it smart and crafty! I really really liked that we have queer characters in here.
Justin from Paper Cuts Scissors, wants to understand why his girlfriend left, as she disappeared inside a book. He is a library student, who is scared of books and is hired to classify a massive underground library. I found this particular story fascinating. The notion to change books, endings and events sounds fun! It reminded me at some point of Woody Allen's movie Midnight in Paris. I was mesmerized by the classification of books in sections according to the ten broad categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification System, used in this story.
My favourite quote from this story comes from Justin's musings when describing who he was going to library school with and how he avoided the hipster kind of girls: "Those girls seemed as dangerous as books that unexpectedly killed their protagonists". It made me chuckle. You may listen to this story for free ***HERE***
In my experience, this book shouldn't be read in one sitting. It is perfect for keeping you company in odd life moments when you really can't devote many hours. I will miss having this