Selina Kyle's Reviews > Hammer and Bone

Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow
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4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because I can see myself re-reading this more than once.

What I love about short story collections is that they can cover more themes and angles than a full-length novel. What I don't love about them is that I never know how to review them. But this is a really good collection and I have an ARC in exchange for an honest review so I'll do my best and just talk about some of the specific stories.

Crank

This story reminded me of a Dickens novel. Poverty, child labor, abuse, illness...and unlike a lot of other books, the effects of poverty are actually taken into account. For instance the main character, Bellew, is kind of a dick, but it makes sense that he is. Frankly it would have been weird and unrealistic if he had been some noble hero dressed in rags. He's like what Tiny Tim would have grown up to be if little Tim had been born without that heart of gold.

The nightmare wouldn't leave him. In his sleep, the Undertaker had looked like Roben, and when he went to kiss him, Roben grew fangs and chewed his face off, slobbering foam and blood, laughing at him for being fool enough to trust one person in the world.

Considering his rough life and what a dick he is despite his very obvious affection for Roben, I think we would've understood Bellew has trust issues without it being spelled out. But heavy-handed moments like that are pretty rare in the book, overall.

I'd give this short a C grade, because it feels a little rushed, a little disjointed, especially compared to how polished many of the other stories are.


Hammer and Bone

This story was post-apocalyptic, a combination of zombie horror, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and a very subtle love story. This being a GLBT-focused collection, the lovers are two women, Bone and Ned. Neither of them are gentle people, but there's such a distinctly different feel to their relationship than to the one just seen in Crank. As gritty as the whole collection is, each relationship is distinct and unique in their happiness or misery, which I think many authors struggle with.

B+


Hangfire

My absolute favorite story in the book. And not just because it pings my ultimate weakness (carnival stories! revenge! power dynamics!) I've read seven book series that didn't make me ache the way this story did.

It's about two cops who are partners, but also secretly dating one another. Jory is out and proud; Angelo is divorced and a father desperately trying to keep what little visitation rights he has. When you're a cop in a red state, you don't want your ex-wife throwing your same-sex relationship at a judge. Crow handles this topic frankly and, maybe because I have friends who've been through the same thing, it hurts all the more.

But that's not the worst. I stayed up late reading and then re-reading Hangfire and I went to sleep feeling bruised and elated at the same time.

Solid A rating for this one. Even if the rest of the book was nothing but chicken scratch I'd recommend it based purely on this story.


No Gods and No Tomorrows

This one struck me as being urban fantasy colored in with the struggles of homeless gay teens and young adults, and the pressures put on them by various bigoted and corrupted priests.

He felt strangely unmoved by [Father] Carn's words, as if his confession had hammered mute some part of him that had been screaming forever.

It's about loyalty to a disadvantaged community versus escaping the hell that comes with being in that community, and figuring out who you are when the rest of the world hates you.

B


Shadow and Starlight

A high fantasy short featuring a sexy woodsman and a fugitive prince. What happens? Not what you're thinking.

Oh my God. This one makes me cringe and if there's some German word for "horrified and shocked and entertained", I need to know it so I can describe this story.

B


This book is marketed as GLBT but it's really good whether you're gay or straight. If you're into gritty stories, if you're into the idea of love and romance being a thousand different things (not all of them happy), snatch this one up when it comes out in March 2015.
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Reading Progress

January 12, 2015 – Shelved
January 13, 2015 – Started Reading
January 13, 2015 –
0.0% "Who got a copy from NetGalley to read and review? Meee"
January 14, 2015 –
35.0% "I've been starved for good gay/lesbian stories. Wish this book was longer"
January 14, 2015 – Finished Reading

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