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The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez (BOOK REVIEW) 4/5

My first experience reading Mariana Enriquez’ work, and I am fairly impressed by the unique creativity of these stories. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is an unassuming little book of short stories with an eye-catching cover and a theme of taking place in the impoverished urban slums of Buenos Aires. These gothic tales each have incredible concepts, with eerie characters that draw you in. Reading through the book, I’ll admit that I was captivated each and every time, wondering how each would end. I even read or discussed many of them with my girlfriend.

My favorite of the stories had to be “The Well”, which began with one of my favorite Sylvia Plath quotes and set a good precedent right away. I loved the concept of a family, desperate for change, sacrificing their daughter and putting their downfalls and fears- quite literally- on her. The symbolism there is beautiful. I also enjoyed “Where Are You, Dear Heart?”, a much more gruesome and obscure story, and “Kids Who Come Back”, a story that stuck in my mind even weeks after finishing this book. “Our Lady of the Quarry” was also one of the more interesting ones.

I will admit that I enjoyed all the stories to a degree, but some of them did lay a bit odd as I read them. Not just because they were unsettling stories- and they were wonderfully translated- but there seemed to be something missing a bit from some of the stories. Maybe it’s just me, but the endings of many of the stories fell a little flat, leaving more to be desired. It could have been that they were good enough to make me want more, or maybe some of them were simply too obscure for me. Regardless, I truly loved Ms. Enriquez’ writing- and immediately bought another one of her short story books to read. Any of her works come highly recommended from me. She has a unique writing style in the world of horror, and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with; her stories carry deeper tones and messages, if you know where to look.

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