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"I loved Dandelion Yellow. I was hyperventilating at the end, but it was such a beautiful, painful and artful tale. I'll be saying that last line to myself for weeks at least. Just beautiful. I'm re-reading the rest. One read just isn't enough because DAYUM. Beautiful." -Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful and The Killer Chronicles
From the Inside Flap
"In Breathe. Breathe., Erin SweetAl-Mehairi employs sharp, jagged words arranged in sparse, disturbinglyvisceral clusters to force readers to "breathe" through the fear andpain of abuse and personal terror. It's a sense reinforced by the deceptivelyquiet but disquieting story, "Dandelion Yellow." Filled with sharpsensory detail, the highlight is "Life-Giver of the Nile," anevocative circular time-shift tale in which an Egyptologist's soul is requiredby Anuket, ancient and modern goddess of the Nile, for a greater purpose.Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicatethat Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fiercenessof a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection isa fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction." -W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf'sTrap (Nick Lupo Series)
Wow. This collection really leaves bruises on the soul. I'm not a huge fan of poetry, yet, I found myself glued to the words and emotions pouring out of this author. The short stories were great too. My favorite was "Lunch Served at Noon", as it had a Twilight Zone-ish quality to it. To fans of dark literary fiction and poetry, I recommend giving Breathe. Breathe. a try.
I read the chapbook version which is a slightly shorter version of this expanded edition of Breathe. Breathe. I also had the pleasure of reading a handful of poems two years ago while featuring Erin's work on my blog. Now with this collection I got to enjoy a full collection of poems along with short stories that really take a look at the dark places we all fear. I loved the stories and one of my favorites was 'Dandelion Yellow', where in a strange world a girl can't find any yellow crayons. Erin paints scenes and evokes emotions with precision and skill. These are the kinds of stories and poems that tighten your chest and leave you holding your breath.
At times sinister, definitely dark, atmospheric and heavy with foreboding, this collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Al Mehairi touches our deepest fears. Murder, domestic violence and even an ancient Egyptian goddess all move within these pages where nothing is ever simple or straightforward. I admire the author’s ability to challenge and explore the facets of life that remain so often hidden. In doing so, she causes the reader to feel the pain of the subject’s suffering but also to recognize that there is life after it. Her characters are ultimately survivors (in the main anyway) and are all the stronger for it. My favourites include Valhalla Lane, Loveless, Ohio. Don’t go and live there. Please! Life-Giver of the Nile and Dandelion Yellow also particularly appealed to me, but there isn’t a weak story or poem in this collection.
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.