Christa Carmen – Something Borrowed, Something Blood – Soaked Review

something borrowedGenre: Occult
Length: 282 Pages
Publisher: Unnerving
Release date: August 21, 2018
Synopsis: A young woman’s fears regarding the gruesome photos appearing on her cell phone prove justified in a ghastly and unexpected way. A chainsaw-wielding Evil Dead fan defends herself against a trio of undead intruders. A bride-to-be comes to wish that the door between the physical and spiritual worlds had stayed shut on All Hallows’ Eve. A lone passenger on a midnight train finds that the engineer has rerouted them toward a past she’d prefer to forget. A mother abandons a life she no longer recognizes as her own to walk up a mysterious staircase in the woods.
In her debut collection, Christa Carmen combines horror, charm, humor, and social critique to shape thirteen haunting, harrowing narratives of women struggling with both otherworldly and real-world problems. From grief, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, to a post-apocalyptic exodus, a seemingly sinister babysitter with unusual motivations, and a group of pesky ex-boyfriends who won’t stay dead, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction.

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

From the initial story, Thirsty Creatures, Christa Carmen put a cool twist on a classic Greek mythology tale, and turned it upside-down. The story was a fun read, and I had high expectations about what was coming next in this collection. The second story, Red Room, was a good mystery that ended with a crazy surprise. But, most of the scenes were over described, and this really took away from the real horror that comes from imaging what you’ve read. I also had trouble with the repetitions related to darkness, blood, and the color red, it felt overdone. I enjoyed some of the stories, but many felt like a retelling of other well-known stories, or they contained a previously well-known setting to support the story. I could see where a lot of inspiration came from but many of the tales needed more originality.

When I reached the midway point and read Liquid Handcuffs, I was enjoying myself again. This was a solid piece of writing, with a nasty but fitting twist. I totally dug the irony of this women’s personal hell. Lady of the Flies, while a good story, felt a bit incomplete, and the conclusion unfinished. Wolves at the Door and Bears in the Forest, was another story that I thought was strong. The stories I enjoyed most involved characters lost in the world of drugs. This is where I thought Christa’s writing excelled, and I would love to see her use that situation in more of her stories. She has a great skill set for this type of character. This our angry Train was fun, but hard to get a hold of, and eerie. I always love a good haunted train setting, and this one did its job. For me, this collection was a mixed bag and I was as frustrated as I was excited depending on the story.

Link to purchase Something Borrowed, Something Blood

Praise for Christa Carmen

“Christa Carmen’s ‘Red Room’ is a different beast altogether. This story has some wicked imagery, a sinister and brooding atmosphere and a terrific ending. I’d go as far to say that this is one of the best short stories Unnerving has published in the magazine.” – The Grim Reader

“I was pulled in from the first story: ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,’ by Christa Carmen. It was also one of my favorites and I have to say that the title gave me a dark chuckle when paired with the band mentioned in the story.” – Sci-Fi and Scary

Christa Carmen, biography

Christa Carmen is a writer of dark fiction, and her short stories have appeared in places like Fireside Fiction Company, Unnerving Magazine, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Outpost 28, DarkFuse Magazine, and Tales to Terrify, to name a few. She has additional work forthcoming from Lycan Valley Press Publications’ all-female horror anthology, Dark Voices, and her debut fiction collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, will be released in August 2018 by Unnerving.

Christa lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and their ten-year-old bluetick beagle, Maya. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master’s degree from Boston College in counseling psychology, and she’s currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing & Literature from Harvard Extension School. Christa works at a pharmaceutical company as a Research & Development Packaging Coordinator, and at a local hospital as a mental health clinician. When she’s not writing, she is volunteering with one of several organizations that aim to maximize public awareness and seek solutions to the ever-growing opioid crisis in southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut.


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