This Strange Way of Dying: Stories of Magic, Desire & the Fantastic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Review by Gnu aka "Nu" is a Muslim Arab-American lifelong SFF nerd interested in diversity representation in media and media criticism. She loves to share works that wow her and for best odds, prioritizes works written by underrepresented people themselves. For more international film, gaming, and comics commentary, catch her at her WordPress blog, gnureads.wordpress.com or connect with her on Goodreads as "New_User."
I don’t typically enjoy genre anthologies, but Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s spare, literary voice, the Mexican folklore, the relevant themes, and the eerie, gothic atmosphere made the pages fly in This Strange Way of Dying.
Scales as Pale as Moonlight: Divorced after repeated attempts to conceive, Laura is still haunted by the memory of a still birth. Initially, I dreaded a premise reminding me of romance protagonists who lament their “empty wombs” and devalue themselves, but despite her grief, Laura doesn’t blame herself, as her family does, she doesn’t succumb to gaslighting or allow them to undermine her self-confidence, and she’s still independent. Every protagonist wavers and regains their confidence, but Laura’s memories of a confident girl, the self-disgust and defiance felt so authentic.
She’d been brave. Headstrong and fearless. Not like the heroine of the novel, never sniveling in the dark, never wavering as a candle sputtered. Hunting snakes without shivering..
I really empathized with a woman who, after disaster strikes as it may anyone, has lost her right to self-determination according to those around her, the assigning of blame on her for an act of God, suspicion toward a person afflicted with depression, the culture that values a woman on whether she has children or not. Smart commentary.
Maquech: Love! Mayan folklore and social class. When I read about the live beetle as jewelry, I thought they sounded beautiful and entrancing. I had no idea they were real! o.o
Stories with Happy Endings: Journalists are vampires, LOL. I liked the irony in this one. They’re tough, them.
Bed of Scorpions: I didn’t believe what I was reading at first. A lyrical but disturbing story.
Jaguar Woman: Regarding colonialism. Smart, empowering, ferocious, the focus is on the “Jaguar Woman,” not the colonizer. Man, I loved this, **** yes.
Nahuales: Sexual harassment. Except for that, the shapeshifters would make a great urban fantasy! LOL. Seriously, I want to see Moreno-Garcia write this.
The Dopplegangers: Wishing your parents were someone else. Yep, you can probably relate.
Driving with Aliens in Tijuana: Tentacles. o.o
Flash Frame: I did not get this one, but it disturbed me because cults always do.
Cemetery Man: Zombies and the Mexican Revolution. Make this an urban fantasy now. An undead badass soldadera winning free of her mad scientist maker, hello, c’mon, what’s the hold up?
The Death Collector: Serial killers and a comment on all the people dying in the City.
This Strange Way of Dying: Beautiful romance with Death.
Bloodlines: Witches! (Brujas.) The only witch story I’ve ever liked! Apparently, you have to go pretty dark, LOL. Murder, hereditary insanity, scorned women, and parricide. Plus, bullying and cutthroat hierarchy.
Shade of the Ceiba Tree: Human sacrifice. o.o Ethereal, haunting imagery and shades of Hunger Games.
Snow: Ambition. Chilling in more ways than one.
Edgy short stories with a punch, they mesh relevance and culture seamlessly, and wow, is it a relief to read unapologetic, strong women! We need more voices like this in the genre! I’m looking forward to reading more of Moreno-Garcia’s work! Four stars!