Swankivy's Reviews > Blood Roses

Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block
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's review
Oct 20, 2008

liked it

This short story collection always makes me sing the Tori Amos song of the same name when I pick it up.

A collection of magical/fairy-tale-esque stories of transformation, this is the usual adjective bath by Ms. Block. It's odd because I usually prefer books with strong characterization and Block's books seem to be more about concept--especially in her short fiction. In the first story--the title story, "Blood Roses," I found myself randomly crying over a poignant paragraph: "She wondered if when you died it was like that. If you still believed your body was there and couldn't quite accept that it was gone. Or if someone you loved died, someone you were really close to, would they be like a phantom limb, still attached to you?"

Mythical references popped up regularly--as soon as I saw Lucy and Rosie being offered pomegranate juice in a strange man's house, I smelled Persephone--and the dark and sort of creepy side of magic is found under every rock here. I got a little tired of the random insertions of "Here's this character, she looks like this, she does this glamorous thing and wears this other glamorous thing and she has a cool name. Now here's this character. . . ." In a way, depending on my mood, it kind of strikes me like sifting through random people's snapshots, so it's interesting, but usually when I'm reading a book I don't want to get attached to a snapshot and then have her not become a person.

Block also has a bit of a habit of ending stories abruptly when it seemed like they were building toward something. I don't insist on resolution, but I do like when they go somewhere and many of these stories went somewhere but stopped before they got there. My favorite stories were "My Boyfriend is an Alien" (in which a girl with schizophrenia describes her boyfriend and why she thinks he is from space) and "Skin Art" (in which Elodie Sweet falls in love with an older man with tattoos, but when he won't even consider her love because she's a minor, tattoos start appearing all over her skin until she desperately goes to him and demands his attention . . . once she gets it, a really accurate statement about love is narrated poignantly, and I really appreciated how it did not downplay the depth of Elodie's feelings while also acknowledging that they were not love).

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