Review: Exposed Nerves by Lucy A. Snyder

cover of exposed nerves by lucy snyderExposed Nerves by Lucy A. Snyder
Raw Dog Screaming Press (September 2021)
114 pages; paperback $12.95; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Exposed Nerves is a collection of feminist horror poems, mostly in the narrative or lyric vein. Lucy A. Snyder excels at taking a known trope — the big bad wolf in “Wolf Waltz” or rapists in “My Neighbor Defends Her Champion” — and flipping the perspective. A lot of these poems use their subjects to make social commentary, which is one of the main purposes of horror. Snyder often takes the women in her poems and allows them to triumph over evil. In “turnt,” for example, a teenage girl is lured into a older boy’s automobile until she can’t help but turning into a ferocious beast:

pulse hammering inside the secluded car
skin splitting over hairy muscle, scarlet claws
and he’s screaming, wailing like he’s burning

Here the hunted becomes the hunter, and while the idea of a teenage werewolf is certainly nothing new, Snyder’s imagery and metaphorical language makes the redemptive story fresh and interesting for readers. 

There are times when Snyder’s poems, however, seem to teeter into weak craft decisions. “The Unforgiving King,” for example, has stanzas that seem based on a haiku “syllable count” (which is, of course, a linguistic misunderstanding that has been disputed and disproven by poetry scholars) but show no understanding of how the haiku form works. “The Invisible Woman,” a poem written with Gary A. Braunbeck, suffers from weak lines and poorly executed line breaks, but its strong imagery and overriding metaphor overwhelm its flawed structure. How much of this is Snyder’s fault or just poor curation or editing one can’t tell, but these flaws are few and far between, and the collection doesn’t suffer greatly because of them.

Overall, Exposed Nerves by Lucy A. Snyder is a relatively strong collection of feminist horror poems. While there are a few misses, most of the poems stand up to scrutiny and the overarching themes within the collection — angry defiance against a threatening patriarchy and a thirst for revenge and justice — are current and necessary. This is a solid collection of horror poetry which readers will very much enjoy.

Review: Attack from the ’80s edited by Eugene Johnson

ad for Attack from the '80s

Attack from the ’80s edited by Eugene Johnson
Raw Dog Screaming Press (Fall 2021)
hardcover $29.95
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Nostalgia can be horrific and, in this case, also incredibly fun. With over twenty tales thrown back into an era where horror bled out of every corner of the literary universe, Attack from the ’80s culls some of the best writers today, many of whom suffered through the decade to carve deep into the psyche.Continue Reading

Review: Monstrum Poetica by Jezzy Wolfe

cover of Monstrum Poetica by Jezzy WolfeMonstrum Poetica by Jezzy Wolfe
Raw Dog Screaming Press (September 2021)
130 pages; paperback $12.95; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Jezzy Wolfe is an author of dark fiction, with a predilection for absurdity. A lifelong native of Virginia Beach, Jezzy lives with her family and quite a few ferrets. Her poems and stories have appeared in various ezines and magazines. Her newest collection of poetry is Monstrum Poetica.Continue Reading

Review: A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng

cover of A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina SngA Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng
Raw Dog Screaming Press (April 2020)
169 pages; $14.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Christina Sng’s collection A Collection of Nightmares won the Bram Stoker award for best poetry collection in 2017. Her follow-up book, A Collection of Dreamscapes, has all the promise of her previous successes. It’s already been listed as one of Reading Vicariously’s Must-Reads from 2020, Tor Nightlife’s Ten Best Horror Poetry Collections of 2020, and Well Read Beard’s Top Five 2020 Poetry Collections, as well as being short listed for the 2021 Stoker Award. Reading the collection, it is obvious why it is receiving so many accolades. It’s a very strong collection of mythic horror poetry that readers will enjoy.Continue Reading

Review: The Masque of the Red Death (Fine Art Edition) by Edgar Allan Poe and Steven Archer

cover of the masque of the red death fine art editionThe Masque of the Red Death (Fine Art Edition) by Edgar Allan Poe and Steven Archer
Raw Dog Screaming Press (January 13, 2021)
72 pages; $26.95 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I know what you are thinking: we can all get this story for free. At the very least, we can get it in a collection with plenty of other stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Why would anyone want to pay $27?Continue Reading

Review: The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Cover of The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie WytovichThe Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (September 2019)

114 pages, $13.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

The Apocalyptic Mannequin is a collection of poetry about the apocalypse, and those who survived. Wytovich attempts to tap into the emotions of survivors with her poetry, creating a cast of characters who explore their fears and pain; however, while there are some really inventive ideas and clever survivor stories in this collection, the majority of the poems ultimately fall short due to craft issues.Continue Reading

Review: Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (December 2017)

162 pages, $14.52 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and her newest collection, also nominated for the Stoker Award, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare.Continue Reading

Review: Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven by Jessica McHugh

Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven by Jessica McHugh
Raw Dog Screaming Press (June 14, 2018)

220 pages, $15.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

You know what I was just thinking we don’t have nearly enough of? Hyper-violent, dystopian, post-apocalyptic sword and sandals-style fantasy with a hefty seasoning of Shakespearean drama. Luckily, we have Jess McHugh’s Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven swooping in to pluck out our eyes.Continue Reading

Review: Witches by Donna Lynch and Steven Archer

Witches by Donna Lynch and Steven Archer
Raw Dog Screaming Press (March 2018)

66 pages, $23.06 paperback
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I never read Daughters of Lilith, the previous literary/artistic collaboration between Donna Lynch and Steven Archer. Why have I never read it? Seriously, because Witches is a wonderful, odd bit of joy in the world.

Let’s start with the obvious: $25 is a bit intimidating when looking at a book of poetry, especially one this short. But, as much as it feels weird saying these words in this specific order, this is more than just a book of poetry. It is also more than just a book of art. It’s the combination of the two and how they mesh and interact to create something that, to beg forgiveness for the cliché, is much more than the sum of its parts.Continue Reading

Review: ”Til Death: Marriage Poems’ by Janice Leach and James Frederick Leach

‘Til Death: Marriage Poems by Janice Leach and James Frederick Leach
Raw Dog Screaming Press (January 2017)

112 pages, $12.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Let’s go ahead and skip the expected Princess Bride reference and pretend I made it so we can move on, alright? After all, marriage isn’t just about love, no matter how true that love may be. Just as it isn’t about sex (just ask every hack comic). Or the creation of small clones of yourselves. Or the merging of empires. Sure, those are part of it, but they utterly fail to encompass the actual experience. Marriage is about a life shared, along with all of the terror, heartache, unbridled rage and desperation that entails. The rest is just window dressing.Continue Reading

Review: 'Underwater Fistfight' by Matt Betts

underwaterfistfightUnderwater Fistfight by Matt Betts
Raw Dog Screaming Press (April 2016)
98 pages; $12.95 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

Matt Betts has been making a name for himself as a novelist lately, but that isn’t how I got to know him. I was first introduced to Matt as a poet, via his superb collection See No Evil, Say No Evil. A guy who wrote poems about cool stuff, like Godzilla and Monsters and Why You Should Totally Leave The Beach. A guy who reveled in the silly and absurd, but could find glimpses of the sublime and occasionally heartbreaking between the lines. Underwater Fistfight is a return to form that I have been waiting for, lo these many intervening years.Continue Reading

Review: 'While the Black Stars Burn' by Lucy Snyder

whileblackstarsburnWhile the Black Stars Burn by Lucy Snyder
Raw Dog Screaming Press (November 2015)
166 pages; $13.95 paperback; ebook $4.99
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

I’ve been a huge fan of Lucy Snyder’s work for years. Her yarns are fun, gutsy and weird as all get out. While the Black Stars Burn, though, has caused me to realize how important it is in the pantheon of full out capital-L Literature.

“Mostly Monsters” makes this indisputably clear from the first page. On the surface, we have the destructive relationship between a father and his daughter and the damage it causes. A sharp, heartbreakingly personal tale of familial horror that kicked me right in the teeth. At the same time, it screams its manifesto to refuse to look away from the small terrors that shape us daily. The sense of causation here, the implications of what went wrong, where and what could be done to keep it from happening in the future are woven through every word without ever stopping the story itself or robbing it of emotional impact.Continue Reading

Review: 'An Exorcism of Angels' by Stephanie Wytovich

An Exorcism of Angels by Stephanie Wytovich
Raw Dog Screaming Press (May 2015)
163 pages, e-book $4.99, paperback $13.95
Reviewed by Anton Cancre

exorcismofangelsSo that we are clear, An Exorcism of Angels is a book of poems about love, but they are a far cry from the images of roses and violets and fleas as sex metaphors. Stephanie Wytovich presents us with love born of need instead of desire. Love that is desperate, angry, bitter and spewing bile and that red, red kroovy all over the place. Love with no happily ever after, ending in padded rooms and jail cells with screams echoing outside and in. Continue Reading