Craft: Stories I Wrote for the Devil

Tor. Jun. 2024. 192p. ISBN 9781250292971. $24.99. HORROR
DEBUT Poet and translator Lima’s (Mother/land) fiction debut is a novel in stories, which “the writer” creates for the devil throughout her life, after sleeping with him at a party. The “stories” are interrupted by unnamed chapters, told by a third-person narrator, who draws readers into the writer’s “real” life outside of her fiction, enhancing their connection to the writer’s work as well as her obstacles as a Brazilian immigrant, a distant daughter, and an eventual wife. The speculative stories range from weird and chilling (such as “Antropófaga,” where the main character eats “tiny Americans” and a work vending machine) to emotionally devastating (such as “Ghost Story,” in which the protagonist finds that the ghost of her older self is haunting her mother). However, it is the writer and her interactions with the devil (rendered with both sympathy and healthy fear) throughout her life that add a surreal hue, uniting the entire volume into one of the most original and unforgettable reads of the year.
VERDICT A captivating, alluring, and, at times, illicit book that is conscious of the craft of the storytelling process without sacrificing an extraordinary reading experience. It recalls Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward, and Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias.
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