Book review: Breathe. Breathe. – Erin Sweet Al-Mahairi

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Erin’s debut collection of poetry and fiction should come with a warning. The warning should read something along the lines of “prepare to be emotionally unravelled” because that is exactly what Erin does here. Poetry is outside of my comfort zone as a reader. When I’ve tried it in the past, I’ve often found it to be a little too abstract for my tastes. Like novels, anthologies and short stories, I want writing to strike a chord with me, to make me feel and make me think. This collection does exactly that. Why? Breathe. Breathe. is as honest and raw as writing gets. Erin bares her soul with these poems, particularly during Act 2 in which the verses take on a much more personal and reflective nature. It isn’t always happy reading, subjects covered include domestic violence and sickness and if you bear these scars yourself or perhaps know of somebody close to you that does then prepare to have them re-opened.

Act 1 has much more in common with the sort of poetry I have previously read and I thoroughly enjoyed Night Stalked and the doomy-tinged Clock of Doom. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Tale is wonderfully descriptive and Buried Alive is a dark as dark gets. The 5 fiction tales round off the collection nicely and in the Valhalla Lane tales, Erin looks to be creating her own small-town horror mythos with an episodic style narrative.

It is great to see that a publisher primarily known for its horror magazine is prepared to publish works outside of the genre. Whilst Breathe. Breathe. certainly has its darker elements, in essence, it is a thoughtfully put together collection of stories and soulful poems that readers of the presses other works and lovers of dark fiction should be encouraged to buy.

4/5 held breaths from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from here.

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