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Side by Side Book Reviews: CRADLELAND OF PARASITES by Sara Tantlinger

Published by Rooster Republic Press

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A poetry collection inspired by the bubonic plague released during the actual Coronavirus pandemic of 2020? How prophetically macabre.
If just reading this review or the subject matter of these poems have you thinking, "It's too soon!"
You need to step away from this book.
Tantlinger does not hold back.

"In the name of Pestilence, I ride, / your scared lord of contagion / bow down beneath divine damnation"

Some poems are told as the voice of the plague itself. Others from the perspective of the dying host. Still others as the collectors of the dead or the doctors or children...
...all of them carry the weight and severity of man vs. virus (or worm).
If you are a reader easily triggered by body horror or vivid word pictures of agonizing death, putrid decay, corpses, burrowing worms, bodily fluids, symptoms of disease--you might want to skip this one.
But as for me and my kind, this is how we cope with the horrors we face in real life. I loved taking this journey with Sara. It was actually quite comforting knowing that disease is mankind's oldest and most formidable foe.


"Remember that you will die,
so that you do not forget to live."

Sara Tantlinger is a master of poetry. Her writing is so damn captivating.

Cradleland is equal parts beautiful and grotesque (which is basically my aesthetic). I learned more about the Black Plague through Tantlinger's poetry than I ever learned in school (sorry to my teachers). Each poem is well crafted. You will squirm and wonder what is wrong with humanity while ALSO wondering why this collection is so relevant in 2020.

I had to bust out my sticky flags for this one because many quotes spoke to me.


In the case of December's "SLAY BELLES" Night Worms package, All three books are from the same indie press, Rooster Republic. One of the owners of the press, Nick Day is also an author. He wrote GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST which we have included in a Night Worms package last year. Sara Tantlinger, author of CRADLELAND OF PARASITES and the editor of NOT ALL MONSTERS, has also been in our package before with DEVIL'S DREAMLAND a poetry collection inspired by H. H. Holmes. FAIREST FLESH by K.P. Kulski was on the preliminary ballot for the 2020 Stokers under Superior Achievement in a First Novel. In fact, all three books were on the preliminary ballot! Superior Achievement in Poetry & Anthology. I'm excited to read Fairest Flesh & Not All Monsters this month! 
~Sadie Hartmann

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