This was my first book by Sonora Taylor, although I was familiar with her and know her already through social media. Sometimes knowing authors before reading their work can be a little tricky; there’s always that worry that you may really dislike their writing, which could potentially make for an awkward situation along the lines - especially for book reviewers! Luckily, I’m happy to say that in this instance, there was no need for worry on my part - I really liked this collection, and I am totally sold on the author’s writing chops!
LITTLE PARANOIAS is a collection of 20 pieces of creative writing, ranging from spooky stories to short poems. While it may seem like 20 short pieces of fiction is a lot to pack into 140ish pages, Sonora manages to do it expertly, leaving just the right amount of length to each to have left me wanting more. I’d probably qualify some of these as flash fiction even, due to how brief but impactful they are.
There were a few stand-outs in the collection for me, but that isn’t to say the rest were weak. As a whole, the collection is an amazing showcase of the author’s abilities as a writer. Throughout these 20 stories and poems, we feel love, and loss, and regret, and desire. Between these pages are living skeletons, true crime podcasts, the end of the world. We’re introduced to characters that we think we know, only to have the scripts completely flipped a few paragraphs from the ending, leaving the reader unsteady and unsure.
That unsteadiness was probably my favorite part about this collection, and one of the things that a majority of the pieces had in common. I love a good unreliable narrator-type story, and so many of these went in directions I just wasn’t expecting at all. I went back to re-read some of the ones that caught me most off guard and found that there were little details and bits of foreshadowing here and there that I’d missed the first time around. I really enjoy books and stories like this, so this was right up my alley.
Another thing I had a lot of fun with was the focus on female characters, especially in roles that women are typically not written into. I don’t want to say too much on this point without giving anything away or ruining any twists, but read it, and you’ll see what I mean!
While I would shelve this as a “horror” collection, I do also love the bits of science fiction scattered throughout. Not every horror collection has that sort of sci-fi flair to it, which is totally okay, but when I find one that does, oh boy! Having that influence really kicks things up a notch for me, and with stories like “Weary Bones” and “Quadropocalypse”, I had a lot of fun making my way through this book.
My favorites in the collection are listed below, but I wouldn’t rate anything in this book below 4 stars:
Crust (p. 27)
Always In My Ear (p. 31)
Death is a Hunter (p. 63)
Stick Figure Family (p. 83)
Hearts are Just “Likes” (p. 87)
Salt (p. 101)
Overall, this was a great introduction to a new author’s writing for me, and I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a uniquely varied & quick collection to read this spooky season.
The book will be available digitally & as a paperback on October 22nd, HERE