Dreamscape Media. Jul. 2023. 5:32 hrs. ISBN 9781666641585. $17.99. HORROR
Poet Clake’s (Museum of Ice Cream) fiction debut may initially remind listeners of the ’90s movie The Craft, but it quickly veers into more harrowing subject matters. Having escaped an abusive relationship, the novel’s unnamed narrator espies teenage witches Chelsea and Jess casting a spell on Chelsea’s boorish ex. The narrator befriends the girls and joins them, hoping to use magic to banish her own ex from her life. Soon, strange phenomena, including disturbing smells and shadowy figures, visit her apartment, and she wonders if her spell unleashed more than she anticipated. Listeners expecting spectacular magical effects will be disappointed; to create a foreboding and claustrophobic atmosphere, Clake instead relies on lyrical descriptions to illustrate the narrator’s increasing dread, a dread that Catrin Walker-Booth’s breathy voice makes palpable. Ultimately, the book’s power comes from the narrator’s memories of the physical and psychological abuse she endured and the depiction of how her ex’s emotional manipulation gradually warped her sense of self.
VERDICT Though the subject matter is disturbing, Clake’s window into the horror wrought by abusive relationships resonates. A haunting literary horror for fans of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.
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