Review: Where the Worm Never Dies by Quinn Hernandez

cover of Where the Worm Never DiesWhere the Worm Never Dies by Quinn Hernandez 
Swann + Bedlam (June 1, 2024)
114 pages; $18.00 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Quinn Hernandez loves the full spectrum of speculative fiction, and he is currently working on expanding his fiction universe. His poetry collection Life and Other Unfortunate Horrors is available from Madness Heart Press, and his short story collection Viva La Muerte! is available from Nightmare Press. His second poetry collection Where the Worm Never Dies is forthcoming from Swann and Bedlam Press.

Hernandez’s poetry is clearly informed by his fiction practices. The poems read like a prose sentence parsed into lines, which is a form of poetry many contemporary authors choose to pursue. As such, the poems read more like short stories with clear narratives. For example, “The Power of Grief” begins:

The old man’s grief
made him desperate
especially when his prayers
fell on deaf ears
turning to an ancient tome
far older than Christ himself
from it, he learned a ritual
and read its forgotten words
and smiled as he witnessed
death himself materialize
contained in a simple ring of salt

This is a typical sample of Hernandez’s style, straight forward narrative with little embellishment or poetic flourish, and the standard for the collection.

Hernandez does not only stick to narrative free verse, however. He also dabbles throughout this collection in rhymed and metered verse as well. For example, “Justice” is a series of limericks which begins:

There was a man named Fester
who once was a child molester
he gave love a whirl
with a twelve-year-old girl
who happened to be the daughter of his Aunt Esther

Rest assured that Fester gets his comeuppance in this poem, as per the title. This shows Hernandez’s approaches to formal verse and his level of skill with rhyme and meter.

Hernandez presents these tales with little flourish or poetic folderol, so readers are presented with a raw and stripped-down tale. For the  most part, Hernandez sticks to free verse, but does occasionally attempt rhymed and metered poetry. Horror readers who like narrative poems  that almost read like microfiction will enjoy this collection.

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