Review copy provided by the author.

A collection of stories soaked in tears, pain, and grief.

I have a lot of conflicting feelings with this collection. On one hand, I find it absolutely stunning, it evokes such strong emotions and had me fighting real tears almost immediately, it's beautiful, grotesque, disturbing, and romantic all at once. On the other hand, the stories are a product of the incredibly real and tangible grief from the sudden death of the authors wife, and I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt consuming these stories as a form of entertainment and escapism. It’s hard not to feel like the worst kind of voyeur, fighting my second hand tears while reading another’s true pain soaking every page—but I am so grateful to Sam Richard for sharing these stories with us.

All but two stories were written in the depths of early widowhood, and the two that were not, were favorites of Richard’s wife Mo (so don’t go thinking that they will grant you a reprieve from the overwhelming emotions). Details and experiences are revisited throughout many of the stories, driving home the inescapable feeling of being haunted, of wanting to be haunted, and rather than feeling repetitive, it made it feel all the more intense as we follow the navigation of loss, not wanting to let go, And trying (and failing) to move on.

I’m sitting here trying to find the right words to properly express just how emotionally overwhelming it is to read these stories, and I can’t. It doesn’t feel right to even try, so I can’t overstate how amazing it is to me that not only we’re they written, but written in a way that is so terribly visceral, and with such an honesty and realness. How easy it would it be to sugar coat? To rewrite history in a way that romanticizes it, makes it prettier, makes it more palatable? This is uneasy reading, the darkness and desperation is unleashed in full force, and it is so much to take in. While I can’t say “I feel like I know Mo”, that would be as absurd as it would be disrespectful—I wish I had known her, and for all the darkness and horror experienced in these stories, it’s ultimately a tribute to love in all its complexity, and I honestly want to cry again as I continue to think about it.

This is not a fun pleasant read, but it is one you should experience nonetheless. Thank you so much Sam. 🖤