Danse Macabre by Laura M. Hughes

Series: stand alone Rating: 3.5/5
Date of Publishing: October 9th 2015 Genre: fantasy, horror, novella
Publisher: self published Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 122 Author’s website: http://lauramhughes.com/

Quote of the Book

“Words have power. Words hold painful truths and delicious lies. Just one word can stir up a hundred memories and a thousand feelings so that you can be hurt by a word or killed by a sentence.”

Blurb

The dead beckon and the little girl obeys. Night after night she answers the graveyard’s call, though she dreads her encounters with the creature that dwells there.

But she’ll soon come to learn that memories are much more dangerous than monsters…

Personal notes

I happened to have a day to spare and Danse Macabre was on sale (not for me though) so I thought why not? It sounded interesting and it went well with the Halloween theme of the week. The only other thing I’ve ever read from her was her short story in the Lost Lore anthology, which I loved.

Song of the Book

I had a hard time finding a matching song for this one. I wanted something that which expresses the hopelessness, the direness of the situation Blue is in. But also her love for her family. I considered some Five Finger Death Punch songs, then Tired from Stone Sour until I found their cover of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave.

Review

Ten lives in exchange of three. Will you take the bargain? 10 years old Blue lost everyone she loved and when a black creature tells her their souls can’t rest in peace because of past sins she has to bear the burden of putting things right. A task too much for a little girl. Even so, Blue sets out to complete her part of the bargain. But she is not one for following rules, so as she makes progress and decides to make her own decisions, she slowly realizes that the creature in the graveyard has a rather dark personality and starts to dread these regular visits. We follow the events past and present through Blue’s eyes, written in third person. At times I found the tense switch confusing especially when it happened within a chapter. As the story progresses we get even more glimpses into Blue’s miserable life and we get to know her through her memories and past experiences, as well as her decisions during the time she tries to hold her end of the bargain. In such a short book as this, Hughes addresses quite a lot of topics from child abuse through thieving and adultery to murder. You might have guessed already that this is not a happy, heartwarming kind of story. Despite her circumstances Blue is not entirely alone. She has two constant companion: Crow and Snail, both encouraging her on their own way. Hughes works with really vivid pictures and descriptions, one can feel themselves right in the middle of the scene, though I could do with a fewer comparisons like this:
“She turns into a hallway where the walls are decorated with rainbows and handprints and splotches of colour, as though an enormous spider once danced in a paint palette then sprinted up the wall.”
Not because they are bad, on the contrary, they are really imaginative and cool, just found it a bit too much in such a short book. I would have liked simpler, shorter sentences to go better with the mood. On the other hand I loved some of the thoughts she put into it, such as this one:
“Follow your own path, girl. Listen to those as give you advice, but never trust in appearances, and never follow blindly. Make your own decisions, follow your own path, and you’ll not go wrong.”
That’s one hell of an advice everyone should follow. Danse Macabre is the perfect read for a cold, foggy autumn/winter afternoon which you spend curled up with a hot drink to chase away the chill of the weather and the story both. Blue and her journey will keep you glued to the pages, clench your heart and leave you utterly broken. It’s not hard to imagine a world so cold and cruel as the one Blue lived in after all.

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