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Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

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Love twisted into horrific shapes, nightmares driven by cruel music, and a world where what little light remains fractures the sky into midnight rainbows in eighteen stories tracing the dark veins of queer horror, isolation, and the monstrous feminine. The universe unwinds to the tune of a malicious ice cream truck jingle in “We All Scream.” “The Law of Conservation of Deat Love twisted into horrific shapes, nightmares driven by cruel music, and a world where what little light remains fractures the sky into midnight rainbows in eighteen stories tracing the dark veins of queer horror, isolation, and the monstrous feminine. The universe unwinds to the tune of a malicious ice cream truck jingle in “We All Scream.” “The Law of Conservation of Death” dictates that a ghost pursue his prey across her every reincarnation. Superstitions thrive even in the distant future and across the stars when a colony shuttle mounts a witch trial in “Hairy Jack.” And try to “Forgive the Adoring Beast” as it scavenges a world of dead gods for tokens of bloody affection. Including two new short stories and a never-before-published novelette, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy digs deep inside and clings to the beating nightmare heart you always knew was there.


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Love twisted into horrific shapes, nightmares driven by cruel music, and a world where what little light remains fractures the sky into midnight rainbows in eighteen stories tracing the dark veins of queer horror, isolation, and the monstrous feminine. The universe unwinds to the tune of a malicious ice cream truck jingle in “We All Scream.” “The Law of Conservation of Deat Love twisted into horrific shapes, nightmares driven by cruel music, and a world where what little light remains fractures the sky into midnight rainbows in eighteen stories tracing the dark veins of queer horror, isolation, and the monstrous feminine. The universe unwinds to the tune of a malicious ice cream truck jingle in “We All Scream.” “The Law of Conservation of Death” dictates that a ghost pursue his prey across her every reincarnation. Superstitions thrive even in the distant future and across the stars when a colony shuttle mounts a witch trial in “Hairy Jack.” And try to “Forgive the Adoring Beast” as it scavenges a world of dead gods for tokens of bloody affection. Including two new short stories and a never-before-published novelette, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy digs deep inside and clings to the beating nightmare heart you always knew was there.

30 review for Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Martin

    In her rousing introduction to Hailey Piper’s latest short story collection, ‘Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy’, Laurel Hightower uses four words that summarise the experience of reading these stories, or Piper’s work in general, more completely than this review could hope to do, and it was a line that stuck with me, both while reading the book, and when I was reflecting on what I’d read long after I’d finished. “Hailey thinks around corners” It’s both beautifully succinct and incredibly apt bec In her rousing introduction to Hailey Piper’s latest short story collection, ‘Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy’, Laurel Hightower uses four words that summarise the experience of reading these stories, or Piper’s work in general, more completely than this review could hope to do, and it was a line that stuck with me, both while reading the book, and when I was reflecting on what I’d read long after I’d finished. “Hailey thinks around corners” It’s both beautifully succinct and incredibly apt because it really gets across how imaginative and unpredictable her fiction is. There is no guessing where a story is going, or what kind of tale she has in store for us next. Trying to predict, or relate the reading experience to any other, is folly. Hailey Piper is always ten steps ahead of the reader, laying breadcrumbs to guide you into seemingly familiar territory, only to pull back the curtain, for you to realise you’re in completely over your head. I can honestly say I had no idea what to expect throughout any of the collections eighteen shorts, but it was thrilling being taken along for the ride. The collection is tied together with common themes (Acceptance, identity, gender, sexuality) and most have strong elements of cosmic or body horror. Outside of that, it’s difficult to define Piper’s oeuvre because her work is so uniquely hers that it defies comparison, but think ‘Cronerberg-ian Alice in Wonderland’ and you may get a broad sense of what to expect. One thing that is consistent throughout is a rampant creativity that will hook you in each and every time, and leave you amazed at how one person can dream up so many inspired and inventive creations so completely unlike anything else you’ve read before. The stories of offer are a varied bunch in terms of tone and genre, with some being short, fun tales (‘Demons of a Particular Taste’, ‘Jormungandr’s Dance’) which can be enjoyed both as blackly comedic cautionary tales, or something deeper should you want to dig into what the piece is saying. Some stories are more abstract and thematic (‘Feast for Small Pieces’ ‘We All Scream’) which eschew traditional narrative for something more visual and thought-provoking. Many stories lean into fantasy (‘Elf-Bride’, ‘Candyland’) or fable (‘Forgive the Adoring Beast’) but there is always an unerring undercurrent of horror permeating every tale and the reader is thrown mercilessly between stories of existential dread, jarring violence, and disconcerting suggestions of deeper horrors that are all the more memorable for being largely left unsaid. Of all the eighteen stories on offer, I think my favourite was the one saved for last. It’s difficult for me to express my experience of reading ‘Recitation of the First Feeding’ because there is so much going on in the story, and so many layers to it, that it’s one that has had an impact on me and one I’ve found myself thinking back to many times since finishing it. It is wildly inventive, a grotesque fantasy that reads like a Clive Barker take on the Mad Hatters Tea Party, but the heart of the story isn’t what happens, but the events that led us there, and the things that go unsaid, permeating the tale nonetheless. I found it intensely gripping at first, as we’re swept away in vivid imagery and heightened reality, but the more I reflect on it, the more I’ve found it to be ultimately quite a sad, melancholic story. It is certainly one that will stay with me and one I’ll no doubt revisit again. ‘Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy’ is a phenomenal collection, a bold proclamation cementing Hailey Piper as one of the most original and innovative horror writers working today. It is a book that demands to be savoured and read, and re-read, so you can fully appreciate the layers at work. An absolute must-read. This review was initially written for and published by Horroroasis.com Check out their site for horror book and movie reviews, articles, giveaways and more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Well Read Beard

    This is an outstanding collection. My 5th Piper read. There are a more than a handful of authors that have become "must read" for me during my indie/small press horror quest, but Hailey is at the top of the list. Every other book I have read by her has been standalone, so all these flavors, all these different stories in one place from an author that I already loved was kind of an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience. Every single story had something new to offer, and I liked every one. And, and This is an outstanding collection. My 5th Piper read. There are a more than a handful of authors that have become "must read" for me during my indie/small press horror quest, but Hailey is at the top of the list. Every other book I have read by her has been standalone, so all these flavors, all these different stories in one place from an author that I already loved was kind of an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience. Every single story had something new to offer, and I liked every one. And, and the ones I loved, I really loved. Wanna know why I loved it so much? Wanna hear a cis man say "Make Horror Gay AF", wanna know my top 4 stories?? you gotta click the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVVSA...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review originally published at Cemetery Gates https://cemeterygatesmedia.com/cemete... We must preach the gospel of horror fiction day in and day out. The life-saving elements of a genre intentionally aiming for hearts & souls. Part of this message must include the importance of short stories as the primary vehicle in which readers can be won over to the dark side of literature. There are too many things fighting for people’s attention. For something to be a strong competitor against the overwhelm Review originally published at Cemetery Gates https://cemeterygatesmedia.com/cemete... We must preach the gospel of horror fiction day in and day out. The life-saving elements of a genre intentionally aiming for hearts & souls. Part of this message must include the importance of short stories as the primary vehicle in which readers can be won over to the dark side of literature. There are too many things fighting for people’s attention. For something to be a strong competitor against the overwhelming magnetism of the internet, horror fiction must present a worthy and comparable opponent. This is why we champion short stories. Readers can quickly sample horror fiction from a wide range of what the genre has to offer. Case in point, Hailey Piper’s short fiction can be found in several anthologies and now this new collection, UNFORTUNATE ELEMENTS OF MY ANATOMY. These bite-sized tales serve as a veritable banquet of various sub-genres and style Piper is gifted in; curious readers can determine what suits their appetite. Armed with knowledge, a purchase of Piper’s longer books can be made with confidence-the investment of money and time sure to pay off. UNFORTUNATE ELEMENTS OF MY ANATOMY is the perfect representation of Hailey Piper’s strongest gift as a writer: Versatility. Cosmic, gothic, fantasy, magical realism, creature feature, body-horror, supernatural, and humor...this book has it all. Within the first three stories, Piper proves her prowess. DEMONS OF PARTICULAR TASTE is a clever twist on a familiar horror trope showcasing the author’s ability to flip the script and blindside readers with a good laugh. THE UMBILICAL CHORD is wicked sharp, precise, unflinching, and dark. WE ALL SCREAM penetrates with rich, terrifying imagery and an in-your-face style of classic horror storytelling. No filler, all killer. One of the most rewarding aspects of this collection is Piper’s selection of witchy tales; a sweet delight for avid horror hounds who don’t get enough of those. It’s cliche to say, “There’s something for everyone here” but it’s true. Read through this collection and when you find a story that resonates with you and stands out among the others, know that there is more where that came from. Enjoy gothic fairytales, queer representation, elements of romance? Pick up, AN INVITATION TO DARKNESS. Love that story about possession? Try, THE POSSESSION OF NATALIE GLASGOW. Need some more of those slasher, killer vibes? You should buy, BENNY ROSE THE CANNIBAL KING. Lastly, if the cosmic horror caught your attention, THE WORM AND HIS KINGS is your jam. I highly recommend this collection as your guidebook to Hailey Piper’s amazing fiction. Use it to pick your next favorite book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Catherine McCarthy

    This is my first read from Hailey Piper but it definitely won’t be my last. First, I must mention the wonderful introduction by Laurel Hightower which sets the scene perfectly. There’s a lot of soul-searching in these stories, a lot of angst and pain, but also an incredible feeling of reinventing oneself. I love this line... “He’ll fade from the world little by little while the good he’s done persists.” This one sentence sums up the heart of this collection. The writing is immaculate, poetic, haun This is my first read from Hailey Piper but it definitely won’t be my last. First, I must mention the wonderful introduction by Laurel Hightower which sets the scene perfectly. There’s a lot of soul-searching in these stories, a lot of angst and pain, but also an incredible feeling of reinventing oneself. I love this line... “He’ll fade from the world little by little while the good he’s done persists.” This one sentence sums up the heart of this collection. The writing is immaculate, poetic, haunting. At times so surreal that you have to stop and think about its meaning. This book is not a page-turner, but I mean that in the best way possible. It is not a book to be devoured in one or two sittings. Instead, it should be savored, meditated upon, to bring out its best flavor. There are so many beautiful sentences and moments of imagery throughout that I could fill half the review just quoting. I highlighted many such incidences as I read. But I won’t do that, instead I’ll give you one more example: “Death comes for your heart in the night while his breath strokes your white hair.” Simple, but so poignant! Among my favorite stories are... Seven Signs he Doesn’t Love You - I loved the second person narrative of this one, as well as the way the island of Keso and its mythology is evoked. Loved the POV in Daisy and its tongue in cheek ending. Loved, loved, loved We All Scream! This one conjured the existential predicament of the protagonist’s dilemma to perfection. Loved its dream-like quality, the metaphors used to describe how sick with nerves the protagonist feels. It also forces you to think about how we take things such as which restroom to enter for granted and how this is not the case for so many people. The Burning of the Blueberries for its metaphorical expression of transgender surgery. So powerful! Forgive the Adoring Beast for its witchy imagery. Incredibly visual! Recitation of the First Feeding for its emotive qualities – poignant, an even more weird version of Alice and the Mad Hatter’s tea party. This one helps you to understand the relevance of the collection’s title. I loved this story so much that I know I will re-read it in the future. I really enjoyed Crones in the Larval State but it came to an abrupt end and I found myself wanting more. My least favorite was Hairy Jack, but that was because of its sci-fi setting, something I’m not a fan of. Of course, others will love it for that very reason. I also liked the way in which many of the stories blended seamlessly into the next, like some aspect of the previous story prompted the next. Some stories, or rather the mood they elicited, stayed with me for days. Don’t be surprised if they creep into your dreams. Overall, 4.5 stars from me, rounded up to 5. N.B. I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara Tantlinger

    4.5 stars! I adored this collection so much. Hailey Piper’s imagination has no limits, and it is truly a pleasure to read her work and see what boundaries she may push, what worlds she may unravel, and what characters and creatures she will introduce us to. I wanted to highlight five of my favorite stories below, and I so very much recommend this collection. “The Law of Conservation of Death” is striking, poetic, and heartbreaking. I loved the way the story flowed here, easily sweeping the reader 4.5 stars! I adored this collection so much. Hailey Piper’s imagination has no limits, and it is truly a pleasure to read her work and see what boundaries she may push, what worlds she may unravel, and what characters and creatures she will introduce us to. I wanted to highlight five of my favorite stories below, and I so very much recommend this collection. “The Law of Conservation of Death” is striking, poetic, and heartbreaking. I loved the way the story flowed here, easily sweeping the reader up in its painful tide. A beautiful tale. “Candyland” packs so much punch, which I think is why it works great as a short story. It allows the reader to keep thinking about the twisted events we witnessed in a way that allows our imaginations to keep running wild with the horrors of what could happen next, and of what happened to all the other girls. This one reminded me a little bit of another favorite short story of mine, “The Tower Princesses” by Gwendolyn Kiste. I think both of those would be excellent material for the classroom whether one is teaching about strong creative writing skills, or also on societal commentary, feminism, predators, and more. “We All Scream” was so wonderfully weird. This is another one where Piper shows how strongly she is able to take something strange and turn it into an engaging, well-written, fully realized story. I’m also forever haunted by the image/smell combination of ice cream and urinals *shudders* just let people pee in peace. “The Burning of the Blueberries” is probably my favorite of the favorites mentioned here. It’s so visually gorgeous, and the story contains such heart. It’s easy to see how the main character gets swept into a darker place just for the sake of trying to belong, of trying to realize what identity can mean. Wonderful, wonderful story. “Recitation of the First Feeding” is a great way to end the collection. The novelette again shows how Piper can imagine these stunning worlds and at the same time create characters who are complex, who don’t always get everything right on the first try, and who so completely take us into their lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lee-ann

    After reading and enjoying a few of Hailey’s other stories, I was excited to dig into this collection! As with most short story collections, there are always some that don’t clique as well as the others and I did find I struggled with more of these stories than I would have liked, but overall there were some real gems and I just find Hailey’s writing so haunting and beautifully poetic. “𝙄’𝙢 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙩𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚. “ One of my favorite s After reading and enjoying a few of Hailey’s other stories, I was excited to dig into this collection! As with most short story collections, there are always some that don’t clique as well as the others and I did find I struggled with more of these stories than I would have liked, but overall there were some real gems and I just find Hailey’s writing so haunting and beautifully poetic. “𝙄’𝙢 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙩𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚. “ One of my favorite stories was the last one, Recitation of the First Feeding. The twisted storyline and creepy characters made for a great read. And it is in this story we learn of the origin of the collections title. “𝙈𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙖𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙜𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙤𝙧 𝙣𝙤𝙩, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙗𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙪𝙣𝙩, 𝙩𝙤𝙤, 𝙖 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙞𝙥 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙜𝙪𝙚, 𝙖 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙛𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙖𝙧 𝙮𝙚𝙩 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬𝙣.” To summarize, I think Hailey is a great writer and puts to paper some immensely creative imagery and prose. This will not be the last title of hers I pick up. I give this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

  7. 4 out of 5

    Justin Lewis

    You know the tunnel scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Yes THAT tunnel scene. Everything is bright and wondrous, but then things take a turn for the horrific? "There's no earthly way of knowing Which direction we are going There's no knowing where we're rowing Or which way the river's flowing" - Willy Wonka Hailey Piper's collection made me think of that scene. I've read around 40 horror novels in the last 7-8 months, with at least a few of them being anthologies and collections. None of You know the tunnel scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Yes THAT tunnel scene. Everything is bright and wondrous, but then things take a turn for the horrific? "There's no earthly way of knowing Which direction we are going There's no knowing where we're rowing Or which way the river's flowing" - Willy Wonka Hailey Piper's collection made me think of that scene. I've read around 40 horror novels in the last 7-8 months, with at least a few of them being anthologies and collections. None of the stories in this collection are remotely like anything else I've read. When I thought stories were headed left, they turned violet. I couldn't guess how things would end and I LOVE that. The imagination on display here is just astounding. There are stories about demons, witches, alternate dimensions, hauntings, monsters, ice cream, and a meal I will NEVER forget. The stories are also about more than that though. There's pain, fear, loss, and transition. These characters are changed by the end of their stories; the way they see their relationships, the way they view themselves, they way the see the world, or in some cases, the world itself is forever changed. There's acceptance and revenge. Beginnings and endings. Beautiful words and terrible sights. I enjoyed all the stories, but here are few of my favorites: - The Law of Conservation and Death: A ghost story unlike any you've read before. I won't say more than that. - We All Scream: Honestly, never thought I'd find ice cream disturbing, but here we are. I really like the ending of the story. - Recitation of the First Feeding: "Wish fulfillment" by way of ritual feeding. Just...wow. I loved everything about this. I'd love to see this adapted into something. A short feature, or maybe a graphic novel? I can't praise this collection enough. I found myself rereading passages just to experience them a second time. From here on out I will seek out every word Hailey Piper writes and I highly recommend you do the same. 5/5 stars * I was provided an ebook ARC for review, but I bought a copy after the second story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Fenlon

    A solid collection from Hailey Piper, but in all honesty, only about a third of the stories worked for me. That doesn't mean to say they won't work for you. There's plenty here to satisfy many tastes, providing you like horror of course. Standouts for me were: FEAST FOR SMALL PIECES: The opening story had a real no-nonsense feel about it. You'll see what I mean when you read it. THE LAW OF CONVERSATION OF DEATH: A reincarnation story that I reckon could be interpreted differently by each reader. Real A solid collection from Hailey Piper, but in all honesty, only about a third of the stories worked for me. That doesn't mean to say they won't work for you. There's plenty here to satisfy many tastes, providing you like horror of course. Standouts for me were: FEAST FOR SMALL PIECES: The opening story had a real no-nonsense feel about it. You'll see what I mean when you read it. THE LAW OF CONVERSATION OF DEATH: A reincarnation story that I reckon could be interpreted differently by each reader. Really admirable. CANDYLAND: A dark and sordid tale seen through young innocent eyes. Really well written. RECITATION OF THE FIRST FEEDING: The last story in the book. Absolutely loved this one. It brought my overall score up for this collection. Other honourable mentions for stories JORMUNGANDR'S DANCE: The line "A worm made of corpses" I felt was just so visual. AGGRESSIVE MIMICRY: A small attention to detail which I always admire. There is talk of going to the cinema to see Back to the Future or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I immediately had to know if they could be on at the cinema at the same time. And yes, they were around a week or so apart. I love when an author takes time to make sure these things are correct whether it's fantasy or not. Real life details should be correct. It makes the unreal feel more real. Know what I mean? And I also have to mention the foreword by Laurel Hightower which I thought was just wonderful. It's 3.5 for me, but I'm rounding it up to 4 because those standouts were class. Definitely want to read more of Hailey Piper's work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Cowgill (LanternsJourney)

    I ADORED THIS COLLECTION. I honestly think Hailey is one of my new favorite authors. It is way hard to pick a favorite story, but I especially loved all the more fantastical ones, like Candy land, Elf Bride, Crones in their Larval State, and the Recitation of the First Feeding. And, if you didn't know, Hailey is part of the LGBTQ+ community and is committed to making horror gay AF. She 💯 has my support and here's why: These unfortunate elements of our anatomy are what makes us human. Making horro I ADORED THIS COLLECTION. I honestly think Hailey is one of my new favorite authors. It is way hard to pick a favorite story, but I especially loved all the more fantastical ones, like Candy land, Elf Bride, Crones in their Larval State, and the Recitation of the First Feeding. And, if you didn't know, Hailey is part of the LGBTQ+ community and is committed to making horror gay AF. She 💯 has my support and here's why: These unfortunate elements of our anatomy are what makes us human. Making horror gay af means making horror more human. It's moving away from exclusion and moving towards inclusion of the entire human experience. The excruciating pain of navigating the path toward your true self and the nirvana and release of finally reaching that ideal and being accepted fully for all your perfect imperfections is something just about everyone can relate to.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    Review to come

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brandi Guarino

    While I have read other works of Hailey Piper’s, this was my first collection of short stories written by her. Like her other work, I was not a bit disappointed. Hailey is famous for creating consistently excellent writing. This collection has 18 stories, a little something for every taste, be it body horror, queer horror, cosmic horror, dark fantasy, and more. With it being a collection of short stories, I thought that I would be able to jump from story to story, but this was not the case. Some While I have read other works of Hailey Piper’s, this was my first collection of short stories written by her. Like her other work, I was not a bit disappointed. Hailey is famous for creating consistently excellent writing. This collection has 18 stories, a little something for every taste, be it body horror, queer horror, cosmic horror, dark fantasy, and more. With it being a collection of short stories, I thought that I would be able to jump from story to story, but this was not the case. Some stories required deep thought and reflection. As with all her writing that I have read, there are deep themes of trans rights and gay rights, of love, of isolation and loneliness, of longing for acceptance, and despair upon being rejected. Themes of tearing yourself apart and rebuilding yourself into the person you were born to be. For me, the standout stories of this collection were “Feast for Small Pieces,” where a woman brings home a man who comes on to her sexually, only to use the best parts of him to heal others who are sick or broken, “The Law of Conservation of Death,” tells the story of a ghost who pursues the woman he claims to own him throughout her every reincarnation, and “Candyland”, my favorite in the collection, where teenage girls make themselves “sweet” to be valuable to aristocrats for whims until they are consumed by them. I could go on and on about this book. I highlighted and copied so many quotes that spoke to me, but I will not add them here because this review would be nothing but quotes. You will get something from every story in this collection, some deeper truth that will strike you when you read Hailey’s words. Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and 7th Terrace for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather Horror Hellion

    I had the privilege and the honor to read Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy by Hailey Piper.(Thanks Netgalley) Hailey is one of those authors that writes incredibly consistently. If she wrote the instructions on how to build furniture I would read them. Hailey doesn't disappoint with this book you get 18, yes 18 short stories. All of them just as incredible as the next. I have a spot in my brain where "We All Scream" lives. It's in there and it's ruining my life and love for sweet desserts.  The I had the privilege and the honor to read Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy by Hailey Piper.(Thanks Netgalley) Hailey is one of those authors that writes incredibly consistently. If she wrote the instructions on how to build furniture I would read them. Hailey doesn't disappoint with this book you get 18, yes 18 short stories. All of them just as incredible as the next. I have a spot in my brain where "We All Scream" lives. It's in there and it's ruining my life and love for sweet desserts.  The other 17 stories are all so good and you will really root for the characters.  The stories are based around nightmares, love, femininity, and queer horror. It's hard to classify them as a whole because they are so different.  Do you yourself a favor and pick this up when it comes out. You deserve this book in your life. 

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shane Hawk

    ARC received through NetGalley Laurel Hightower sets Piper's readers up with a great introduction. I read this collection slowly during WiHM (February) by making time for it when I could—I've been busy to say the least. Piper's title is as apt as you can get when keeping the stories' themes in mind. As a self-publisher and someone who's worked closely with an anthology project, I've got to admire the book's formatting before I even get to its content. The inclusion of story illustrations, no matte ARC received through NetGalley Laurel Hightower sets Piper's readers up with a great introduction. I read this collection slowly during WiHM (February) by making time for it when I could—I've been busy to say the least. Piper's title is as apt as you can get when keeping the stories' themes in mind. As a self-publisher and someone who's worked closely with an anthology project, I've got to admire the book's formatting before I even get to its content. The inclusion of story illustrations, no matter how large or small, in collections is always a treat. Of the eighteen stories in this collection, fifteen are reprints and three are brand new. Though it's worth saying all the stories were new to me. And of the newly written ones, the final story was one of my favorites! There's a lot of pain and heartbreak in these stories as well as hope and understanding, which I'll assume, all allude to the trans experience. Not saying all, but perhaps Piper's experience is bleeding through the pages before us, making this collection even more personal than other works. Piper's prose has the ability to stop you in your tracks and gaze at its beauty. It can be hard to review collections as one doesn't want to give many details away, especially with such brevity. But I think you will want to read this collection once it goes live in May 2021. In these haunting pages, you'll find witches, ghosts, creepy creatures, et al. Standout stories include: The Law of Conservation of Death, Aggressive Mimicry, Crones In Their Larval State (time to write this into a full-length, Piper!), We All Scream, and Recitation of the First Feeding.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    What an absolutely magnificent collection of stories. My first introduction to Hailey Piper was The Worm and His Kings. I loved her characters and imagery so much, so I swiped an advance copy of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy from NetGalley. If you are a woman, queer, or trans, you will probably see yourself in these pages. Hailey Piper writes incredibly meaningful horror, and she manages to sneak meaning in even when a story is silly and quirky (see *We All Scream* for an excellent example). What an absolutely magnificent collection of stories. My first introduction to Hailey Piper was The Worm and His Kings. I loved her characters and imagery so much, so I swiped an advance copy of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy from NetGalley. If you are a woman, queer, or trans, you will probably see yourself in these pages. Hailey Piper writes incredibly meaningful horror, and she manages to sneak meaning in even when a story is silly and quirky (see *We All Scream* for an excellent example). The stories in this collection are going to stay with me for a long while, and this is a book I will definitely be purchasing a copy of. My favorites were Feast for Small Pieces, We All Scream, The Burning of the Blueberries, and Recitation of the First Reading. Wonderful collection!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt Bliss

    If you’re like me, you’ve probably been seeing the name Hailey Piper everywhere, and there is a good reason for that. She is an absolutely amazing writer! This collection is even further evidence of that. The title is fitting for this collection, but don’t be fooled. There is a bit of everything in here, creatures, witchcraft, ghosts, demonic possession, all done in Piper’s unique style. That style, is the real reason to read this in my opinion. Piper’s exceptional prose seems to crawl under your If you’re like me, you’ve probably been seeing the name Hailey Piper everywhere, and there is a good reason for that. She is an absolutely amazing writer! This collection is even further evidence of that. The title is fitting for this collection, but don’t be fooled. There is a bit of everything in here, creatures, witchcraft, ghosts, demonic possession, all done in Piper’s unique style. That style, is the real reason to read this in my opinion. Piper’s exceptional prose seems to crawl under your skin and find some deep seeded emotion to pray upon. I loved it! As with any collection like this, everyone will have their own favorites. Some were better than others for me, but they all had strong writing and were well thought out. Oddly enough, I wasn’t a huge fan of the variety of story length. Maybe I’ve just been programmed by anthologies with generally cohesive story lengths, or maybe I just wished the ones I liked were longer, but either way it did throw me off a bit. Altogether, this is a great read that truly showcases the author’s talents, and I think any horror fan will enjoy it. I definitely look forward to reading more of Piper’s work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Dean

    Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is an amazing collection of stories by the supremely talented Hailey Piper. The stories contained herein range from dark fantasy to the macabre. The themes and ideas explored can be both touching and terrifying. I honestly enjoyed every story. Some of my favorites were: Feast for Small Pieces The Law of Conservation for Death I'm Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, But... Seven Signs He Doesn't Love you Hairy Jack The Burning of the Blueberries Recitation of the First Feedin Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is an amazing collection of stories by the supremely talented Hailey Piper. The stories contained herein range from dark fantasy to the macabre. The themes and ideas explored can be both touching and terrifying. I honestly enjoyed every story. Some of my favorites were: Feast for Small Pieces The Law of Conservation for Death I'm Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, But... Seven Signs He Doesn't Love you Hairy Jack The Burning of the Blueberries Recitation of the First Feeding. A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Austrian Spencer

    “Unfortunate elements of my anatomy” is a great name for Hailey Piper’s collection of short stories. There’s Hailey’s underlining passion for Trans and Gay rights coming through in all the stories here, and the shorts span a wide range of genres and styles. From witches to cosmic entities, from mythical creatures to secret societies, Piper leads us from one provocative story to the next. I use the word “provocative” very carefully because it is a perfect word for Piper’s intentions. Speaking as a “Unfortunate elements of my anatomy” is a great name for Hailey Piper’s collection of short stories. There’s Hailey’s underlining passion for Trans and Gay rights coming through in all the stories here, and the shorts span a wide range of genres and styles. From witches to cosmic entities, from mythical creatures to secret societies, Piper leads us from one provocative story to the next. I use the word “provocative” very carefully because it is a perfect word for Piper’s intentions. Speaking as a novelist, short stories are a whole different creature to what I normally read. A short story must by its very nature condense a novel into an idea, to be written as precisely and concisely as possible. Piper manages that here in all of her stories in this collection, but manages to do so with a general underlining theme, reflected in the very title of the book itself, that of giving the reader a taste of the fear, horror, emotional backlash and prejudice trans and gay people live through as a part of their everyday lives. I think it’s a universal comment for authors that you should write what you know, and Piper (to my mind and understanding of the theme) manages to tell her story through varying creatures and witches and situations in the book. I believe. It’s magnificent. And heart-breaking. I used the word provocative earlier, a word that best describes these stories – stories that provoke you to re-evaluate your own world view and how that world can be seen through the eyes of someone that “does not fit” a mould enforced on them by society. Each story takes themes of that general state of prejudice and highlights the affected person’s reactions. Themes run throughout the collection, that of womanhood, mistaken identity, denial of own self, birth and rebirth. It’s great feminist literature, and rightly so – White Male-dominated society has been pretty poorly led up until now. It’s way past time to embrace diversity and stop being so damn stubborn. It would be a disservice to Hailey to go through the entire collection and say my thoughts on each piece, each has its own distinct voice, highlights and perspectives, but here are a few of my thoughts on pieces I really liked, or that made me think long and hard: The law of conservation of death. This is a tough one. The self-destruction of personal self in the attempt to defeat another being’s obsession with possession of your soul, is an attempt to describe denying power from someone else over your body and mind. I worry, because It reminds me of rape/abuse victims (here a murder victim), with their relentless obsession of "property", that someone can "belong" to someone else. It might also be a social commentary on marriage, the difference between "giving yourself" to someone else (property-related), and "committing yourself" to someone else (which retains the power of individual commitment and "power of choice") Regardless of my musings, I didn't feel satisfaction at the end that she had freed herself of his obsession, because she destroyed herself to do it, the exact opposite of what we need to tell victims – that they are worth more, that they need to live to rise above that false claim of property, and whilst I feel happy she is free of his obsession, this left a bitter taste for me. Which is exactly Piper’s intention of course. Dammit. Demon's of particular taste. Great short, it has humour, is intelligent, and cowabunga! Great stuff. Aggressive mimicry. This was good, a believable monster, an other-worldly set of rules to its victim entrapment and the core issues of identity at its heart. Crones in their larval state. Really loved this one, the idea of witches being held as prisoners for reform is just wonderful. The juxtaposition of the orange-clad prisoners and their witch selves was just fantastic – orange suit witches! Bam! And real thought went into the requirements for spells, just great storytelling. Way too short. Make this into a book, please. The burning of the blueberries. So this was definitely a high point. I liked the fact that Hailey refrained from stating the mc is trans, having been female and now male. I thought the story set up was good, the society believable, the MC's reactions real, and the ending how it had to be. This felt very complete. Also, the writing was very much in voice. This is the core of this book, right here, and deservedly so. Recitation of the first feeding. Love the idea of the court that eats. Just a great, great idea, the grandma knowing and explaining, just spellbinding. Love the a la carte joke. "And the absence of a memory can haunt, too." Is a stand-out line. This reminded me a little of Pan’s labyrinth of course, but that also made me squirm. In summary: It’s hard not to get philosophical with Piper’s works, and collected here, under the heading she has given them, doubly so. But even without the underlying messages inserted into each piece, I think this is a great collection and a wonderful collage of Hailey’s many voices and perspectives. This is a solid 5 stars, and time well spent. Full disclosure: I received this book as an ARC from Seventh Terrace and Hailey Piper, but all opinions and critique views expressed are unbiased, honest, and my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy in exchange for an honest review! Were he to write about me, it would be my fault, but the pen is in my hand today. It was from the very first story, “Feast for Small Pieces,” that I knew Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy would be something special. Hailey Piper’s words resonated with me in a way that made me want to punch the patriarchy. Alright, alright, I feel that way every day but the point is, this s Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy in exchange for an honest review! Were he to write about me, it would be my fault, but the pen is in my hand today. It was from the very first story, “Feast for Small Pieces,” that I knew Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy would be something special. Hailey Piper’s words resonated with me in a way that made me want to punch the patriarchy. Alright, alright, I feel that way every day but the point is, this short is so phenomenal and was a perfect way to get the reader excited for the rest of the collection. Hailey Piper never fails to amaze me with her writing and range. At times, I’m in awe with the lyrical quality of her words, while other times I’m laughing out loud over a demon attached to a Skip-It (“Demons of Particular Taste”). We love a Horror Queen that can hit all of the spooky spots. Each time a story ended, I would promise myself, “just one more!” and ended up reading a little over half the collection in one-sitting. This is something very rare for me, as I’m not huge into collections. Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy is officially one of my favorite short story collections. Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy has queer themes sprinkled throughout, and when I say sprinkled, what I really mean is that Hailey Piper threw eight cups of queer into the recipe and it’s fantastic. Loves the representation. I’m not a chainsaw kind of girl, but her teeth sure are pretty when they catch the sunshine. Top Three Favorites in Collection: “Feast for Small Pieces” “I’m Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, but…” Note, this also wins best title ever. “Daisy” Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy has possession, a spooky ice cream man, witchcraft, reincarnation, and more! I 10/10 recommend picking this collection up because on top of Hailey Piper’s A+++++ writing, there is seriously something for everyone. You really just can’t lose with this one. Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads, writes the introduction to Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy and she really sums up how I feel about Hailey Piper and her work so well. Basically, if you want to hear even more of my thoughts, just pick up Unfortunate Elements of Anatomy & read the intro, because same. Any quotes used in review is from an early copy of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy and may not line up with the finished copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brennan LaFaro

    If you like brevity in your book reviews, this collection can be summed up by simply saying read Hailey Piper. There’s a reason her short fiction is everywhere (this is not hyperbole) and 2020 saw her release not one, but two top shelf novellas in Benny Rose, the Cannibal King and The Worm and His Kings. She’s that good, and Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy is no exception. Collecting pieces written from about 2018 to early 2020, Anatomy shows fair range in style, running the gamut from heartwr If you like brevity in your book reviews, this collection can be summed up by simply saying read Hailey Piper. There’s a reason her short fiction is everywhere (this is not hyperbole) and 2020 saw her release not one, but two top shelf novellas in Benny Rose, the Cannibal King and The Worm and His Kings. She’s that good, and Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy is no exception. Collecting pieces written from about 2018 to early 2020, Anatomy shows fair range in style, running the gamut from heartwrenching pieces like “The Law of Conservation of Death”, my personal favorite, to humor like “Demons of Particular Taste”. Traditional horror tropes to dark fantasy to twisted nightmares you won’t see anywhere else. Not only does Piper embrace diverse subject matter, but the story lengths even keep the reader on their toes. Piper interspersed flash pieces with stories of a more customary length, ultimately closing with a novelette. “Feast for Small Pieces” is a bombastic opener, reminding this reader of a band leading an album off with frantic drums and thrashing guitar to make sure the listener, or reader in this case, is paying attention. It takes us directly into “The Law of Conservation of Death”, a piece destined to wheedle its way into your consciousness and take root. Try forgetting this one. “I’m Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, but…” is a brutal ride, laced with unforgettable description. “We All Scream” lingers with vivid imagery. Possibly the creepiest story in the collection. You’ll never listen to the tinkling bells of the ice cream man quite the same way. “The Burning of the Blueberries” was another favorite. Packed with commentary on toxic masculinity and finding one’s place in the world, Piper explores the concept beautifully, landing in an unexpected, but inescapable place. “Recitation of the First Feeding” closes out the collection. With some parts reminiscent of MR James and others of Clive Barker, this thing is all Hailey Piper, and the collection couldn’t have ended any other way. This is but the first offering of 2021. We’ve still got Queen of Teeth and copious amounts more coming from this talented author before the countdown takes us to 2022, but this is a hell of a way to start things off.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian Bowyer

    Varieties of darkness. Spectacular! An astonishing collection. Brilliant from the first page to the last. Hard to pick a favorite, but "Recitation of the First Feeding" is transcendent. Highest recommendation. Varieties of darkness. Spectacular! An astonishing collection. Brilliant from the first page to the last. Hard to pick a favorite, but "Recitation of the First Feeding" is transcendent. Highest recommendation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Joyce

    ‘Feast for Small Pieces’ turns the tables on those ridiculous old pulp stories told from the man’s point of view, whereby all he needs to do is approach an attractive woman and she becomes nothing more than putty in his hands. In Piper’s story, after being aggressively approached by an “alpha” male, her unnamed protagonist exercises her full power over the weaker sex and puts him to good use. No longer a waste of flesh and muscle, he ultimately serves a purpose for this mysterious creature that ‘Feast for Small Pieces’ turns the tables on those ridiculous old pulp stories told from the man’s point of view, whereby all he needs to do is approach an attractive woman and she becomes nothing more than putty in his hands. In Piper’s story, after being aggressively approached by an “alpha” male, her unnamed protagonist exercises her full power over the weaker sex and puts him to good use. No longer a waste of flesh and muscle, he ultimately serves a purpose for this mysterious creature that is more than she seems. The horror in this story is glorious to behold, with the serious underlying issue and a narrative voice that is sharply sardonic. ‘The Law of Conservation of Death’ also has a serious issue at its core, with the added speculative element. On the surface, we have a woman who recalls each of her past lives, and how she met her end in each, at the hands of a man who, in her first incarnation, was a partner. But it is soon made clear that he saw her as little more than a possession for him to toy with, and not even death should stand in his way. The multiple reincarnations make for chilling reading as the hunter inevitably finds his prey, whether it is while she is young, or if it takes a lifetime. Time has no meaning when you can recall everything that has gone before. While it makes for difficult reading, Piper does a wonderful job of letting the story play out to a fulfilling conclusion. A summoning gone wrong sets the stage for ‘Demons of Particular Taste’, when Lin relies on her girlfriend Kristie to cast the invading demon out with an exorcism. But relationships meant for two rarely work out when there is a third wheel, and the subjects in this story are no exception when the truth of the ritual becomes clear. One of the shorter pieces in the collection, it still packs a punch thanks to Piper’s seemingly effortless storytelling style, while also showcasing some of her humour. ‘I’m Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, But …’ is one hell of a title, and the story more than lives up to it. Another story tinged with humour, thanks to the narration by Zoe, this one takes place one night when she is together with her two best friends and their idiotic and misogynistic boyfriends. Determined to make her friends see the error of their ways, Zoe employs a magical melody that she can play on her grand piano, something she discovered in a book of the occult, something she doesn’t truly understand. Blending elements of hardcore horror, cosmic horror and a wonderful narrator, Piper delivers a fantastic and fast-paced story. A disturbing mix of fairy-tale and possessiveness, ‘Candyland’ makes for an intriguing read. Set in an alternate reality where teenagers compete for the attention of beautiful alien visitors, this story examines the idea of popularity, and what some may give to achieve it. While these aliens are treated like royalty (they essentially pay the family of their “chosen” consort a dowry), the small group of friends to which Catherine belongs will do anything to win their favour. She tries to downplay it but, secretly, she longs to be the chosen one, before she reaches maturity and is no longer deemed worthy of the aliens. Piper explores the dynamics of friendship and worship and the horrors both hold within. It seems that no subject is beyond her reach when it comes to unearthing the horror beneath. With elements of fantasy and horror, ‘Elf-Bride’ tells the story of a young Scottish girl, soon to be a woman, obsessed with the notion of marrying an elf. She researches the rituals needed to open a door to the land of Faerie, where the elves are said to reside, and enlists the help of her ‘girls’, be they sisters or friends is not clear. What becomes clear, through the telling of the story, is just how far Aileen will go to get what she wants. The voice of the narrator dons an appropriately—and convincingly—Scottish lilt (and this reviewer ought to know) which lulls the reader along in this tale of what could be conceived as a young girl’s fanciful game. That is, until the chilling finale. Everything, from the setting to the narrator to the ritual, comes together to deliver a quick and entertaining tale. A love triangle takes centre stage in ‘Aggressive Mimicry’, where Miguel watches the object of his affection, Omar, pursue women in their social group, but also feels Omar is giving him mixed signals about his own intentions toward Miguel. When Omar claims to know where a beautiful woman skinny-dips, he proposes their group of male friends try to find her. This tale feels very much like a modern version of the siren story, a mysterious and beautiful creature luring men to their deaths, men who follow their urges instead of using their brains. If only Omar had been honest with Miguel about how he felt, things could have ended differently. In ‘Seven Signs He Doesn’t Love You’, the unnamed protagonist comes home from a hard shift at the hospital to find that her boyfriend, Donnie, has booked them a two-week holiday to the tropical island of Keso. Out of season and subject to stormy weather, there is little for the couple to do. But Donnie seems right at home, getting cosy with a local girl. There is something supernatural and creepy going on on the island, with its so-called guardian statues, but the main crux of the story, as hinted at by the title, is the growing strain on their relationship. For every sign, there is another sinister and stressful crack in their romance, leading the protagonist to take refuge in the embrace of another, but not in the way you may think. In an alternate version of present day where witchcraft is real and feared by those in power, ‘Crones in Their Larval State’ sees Carol visiting her daughter in a detention centre meant for those accused of practicing witchcraft. It details a very difficult relationship between mother and daughter, taking to extreme the relatable story about trouble faced by women who feel their daughters don’t listen, and girls who feel their mothers don’t understand. It is a fantastic allegory, and an exciting premise that, much like most of the stories in this collection, would make for a great novella or novel, in the hands of a gifted storyteller like Piper. Continuing the witchcraft theme, but moving the setting far into the future and far from Earth, ‘Hairy Jack’ examines the politics of a patriarchy that uses accusations of witchcraft to keep the female members of the ship’s population in line. But when they choose the wrong woman to target, the eponymous Hairy Jack, a large black dog (employed here as a familiar), is set loose on the ship and those men, and those who would stand idly by, pay the price. A fine example of a futuristic witchcraft story (not sure that sentence has been used a lot before) and further evidence of Piper’s ability to blend all manner of stories together to create something exciting and unique. ‘Daisy’ is the name of the main character in this particular tale, a young Labrador when she first meets a young boy, one of those children who can’t help but grab at dogs despite whatever harm he may do. Daisy doesn’t forget the boy, and the cruelty she senses in him, meeting him again when he is a young man. She leads him away from the town and toward her true owner. One of the shorter stories, to say any more would give too much away. But Piper does an excellent job of conveying so much in such a small space, and tying together threads from the past of the story’s beginning, to its end. A delightfully creepy finale. When Beatrice discovers her mother’s old Walkman in ‘The Umbilical Chord’, the infernal music has an unusual and horrific effect on the girl. Something her mother has seen in the past. As the mother narrates the story, addressing her sister throughout, the full extent of the horror wrought by the tape in the Walkman gradually becomes clearer, until the bloody and emotional ending. A story dripping with equal quantities blood and regret, it is paced wonderfully well and told with the author’s unique style. ‘We All Scream’ features Shareen, a transgender girl faced with the daunting task of using a public restroom. Most of us won’t know the terror that can come with this situation, especially once we know something of the intolerant history that Shareen has faced at the hands of her own family. Neither will we know of the terror of a creepy ice cream vendor sliding in through the open restroom window and forcefully insisting we eat ice cream while he watches. It may sound strange, and possibly could have taken the story in a more bizarro, light hearted direction. But, given the sinister comments made by the vendor, and him knowing details about Shareen she hasn’t shared with him, the story turns out quite chilling (Pun not intended; who knew ice cream could be so terrifying?). ‘The Burning of the Blueberries’ sees Gabriel celebrating his twenty-first birthday alone in a dive bar, before he is approached by the affable Marty and given the opportunity to visit the exclusive Horned Brotherhood, on the face of it a gentleman’s club, but more likely a secret society. Women only ever enter the club to fulfil the desires of a member. But, when Gabriel witnesses a woman being escorted from the basement, he can’t help but investigate, even as he is trying so hard to fit in, to be one of the lads. He discovers an inner circle, a terrible ritual, and a crime against mother nature. A story that shows that, most of the time, there is nothing more evil than men who crave power and will do whatever it takes to grab it. ‘Jormungandr’s Dance’ sees the aftermath of a young couple’s argument play out against the backdrop of an attack on the city by giant, worm-like creatures. The two incidents seem unconnected although, as we see toward the end of the story, there may be a specific reason why these worms, and the individual ‘particles’ that form them, come into being. Grief is a powerful emotion and perhaps the overall emotional wellbeing of the universe is finely balanced so that, too much sadness could push it over the edge, and cause the cataclysmic events of the story. An unusual love story, ‘Forgive the Adoring Beast’ is told from the point of view of a mythical beast that finds itself drawn to a witch in the woods, even as she kills it over and over again. But it only wishes to serve the witch, leading her to embrace the creature, but in a most unusual way, to make something even better. A meditation on love and what some will do to please those they adore. ‘Among the Creatures of the Night’ finds Melanie running from a too-insistent admirer who had taken to bothering her at the café in which she worked, never taking ‘no’ for an answer. The story is all too familiar to many women, having to deal with the unwanted advances of entitled men too used to getting their own way. It doesn’t help Melanie’s situation that many of her co-workers encouraged his behaviour. Piper uses her artistic licence to paint the pursuing admirer as something supernatural, so too the co-workers who accompany him, that she describes as ‘she-clowns’ so heavy-handed they have been with the make-up. But it makes for a creepy visual, and a captivating story. ‘Recitation of the First Feeding’ is a tremendous story to end the collection on, as we are introduced to Alex, a young boy ‘haunted’ by a ghost girl who he believes steals his younger sister’s dolls and hides them in his room, steals his mother’s cosmetics and does the same, leaving him to take the blame. The truth is much more complicated than that and, without understanding parents to offer love, like they are supposed to, Alex doesn’t realise the truth until he is much older. Until he has made the acquaintance of the frightening Culinary Court, a group of demons who, once summoned, can devour anything offered, even memories. A tale about identity and coming to terms with one’s own skin, with added demons and ghastly descriptions, Piper delivers a wonderful and, at times, heart-breaking story as only she can. Eighteen stories, each one comprised of different characters, settings, time periods. But they all have one thing in common; they are all written by an author who, whether born with it or through hard work, has an exceptional command of her craft. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph, serves the story. Most of the stories hold a kernel of truth, born in the intolerance and hatred of self-serving and controlling men, that hints at a past of bigoted and despicable behaviour experienced by the author. That she has navigated those troubled waters to find a home in horror, and deliver such consistently fantastic fiction, is something for which readers ought to be grateful. Hailey Piper is an incredible storyteller with an unflinching and captivating style, and her star continues to shine brighter with every publication. Reading her work is as rewarding as it is entertaining.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Staley

    I really enjoyed this collection! These stories are so imaginative and unique. There is a sense of uneasiness that lies underneath the surface. Many left me feeling just a bit off balanced…in a good way. There are so many strange and wonderful creatures and beings in these stories, I’m continually blown away with what she comes up with! There is also a realness and honesty to her human characters, often so relatable in their emotions. This is a solid short story collection and solidifies Piper a I really enjoyed this collection! These stories are so imaginative and unique. There is a sense of uneasiness that lies underneath the surface. Many left me feeling just a bit off balanced…in a good way. There are so many strange and wonderful creatures and beings in these stories, I’m continually blown away with what she comes up with! There is also a realness and honesty to her human characters, often so relatable in their emotions. This is a solid short story collection and solidifies Piper as a favorite author. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Some favorites are: Feast for Small Pieces The Law of Conservation of Death I’m Not a Chainsaw King of Girl, But… Seven Signs He Doesn’t Love You Crones in Their Larval State Hairy Jack The Burning of the Blueberries Among The Creatures of the Night Recitation of the First Feeding

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I recently read this book after having pre-ordered it and completely forgotten about it afterwards, only when I saw an advertisement for it on twitter and tried to buy it did, I realise that I’d already got it! So I figured, this month being Pride month, and this book having lots of LGBTQ+ characters throughout, it would be a good addition to the blog. I’ve reviewed other Hailey Piper titles on the blog before throughout the year, and she’s definitely one of the most skilled authors I’ve read rec I recently read this book after having pre-ordered it and completely forgotten about it afterwards, only when I saw an advertisement for it on twitter and tried to buy it did, I realise that I’d already got it! So I figured, this month being Pride month, and this book having lots of LGBTQ+ characters throughout, it would be a good addition to the blog. I’ve reviewed other Hailey Piper titles on the blog before throughout the year, and she’s definitely one of the most skilled authors I’ve read recently so I wanted to give her a little bit of a shout out and encourage those of you who may not have previously read her work, to maybe pick something up. So have a scoot through the blog if this one doesn’t sound like it’s for you and see if others might be. What I love about Hailey’s characters is that they are all well fleshed out, they all have their own personalities and their own backgrounds. She has a nice range of both characters and writing skill, so I always enjoy her work. When I picked this one up, I was unsure what to expect but I knew it was going to be well written because I’m familiar with the author. A few pages in and suddenly I was half way through the book and had shirked all responsibility for the day. I found myself promising to stop after this story, after the next story and the pages just kept turning. Each time I thought I’d found a favourite story, the next one hooked me and I was falling in love with that one, it’s been very difficult to choose a selection of stories to talk about for that reason. I have, however, chosen some to talk about and this does not by any means suggest that I didn’t enjoy others, there’s no stories in this book that I didn’t like,0 but I just really loved these ones; Seven Signs he Doesn’t Love You I liked the imagery in this story, it felt like I could have been there, walking alongside the narrator as she told her tale. This is something which Piper is very good at, setting scenes and letting you walk amongst them as her stories unfold. This one is about a couple who go on holiday, but it’s not quite right, there are things amiss from the very beginning and the narrator walks us through them as she becomes more and more uneasy as the events unfold. The Umbilical Chord This one I enjoyed because I’ve never read anything else like it, it’s very original and once again the imagery was fantastic. Very often even with original stories you can see where the inspiration might have come from but this one definitely didn’t seem like any other book or film I’ve experienced. I very much enjoyed this one from a completely fresh perspective. We All Scream This story really grabbed me, I very much enjoy when short stories read like urban legends or campfire stories, it has a kind of nostalgia to it for me because being the youngest on my Mother’s side of the family (all of which live in the city I grew up in – or close to it) I spent a lot of time being told scary stories designed to frighten me. I think this is a big part of why I’m such a fan of horror now. This captured the essence of those stories and I really enjoyed the vibe of it. It also touches on an issue which I have seen raised a fair bit online over the last couple of years which is the trans bathroom question. The story opens as the main character, Shareen, is trying to go into the toilets in a shopping centre and is questioned about her use of the ladies’ room (more on this in a minute). The Burning of the Blueberries I think this one has to be my favourite of the book, throughout my reading experience these were all going to be picked as a favourite but each time I turned a page something else took that spot. After I finished reading this was the one which stuck the most strongly in my mind. The imagery of this story, the way it was told and the pacing of it just really worked well for me. I also like the way that the character’s feelings are brought across and we slowly learn more about him as we read. Now, just because I’ve chosen these stories, again, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the others. I very much did enjoy all of the stories in the book and more than that, I enjoyed the characters. There’s no joy in being stuck in the realm of characters you don’t like or don’t want to read about, and I’m pleased to say I haven’t read a single Hailey Piper book that did provide those hateful characters. One thing I really love about Piper’s work, is the representation she includes. Given that Piper does identify as part of the LBGTQ+ it probably wouldn’t surprise you that she is very, very good at writing characters who do also, but this is a skill that others don’t quite have down yet. Piper writes people, all of her characters are woven with a kind of love and skill that not everyone can do, and her characters have real life behind them. Each of these stories has flesh and blood characters that really come into their own and that’s a really important factor in writing, at least for me. Now, I’m not saying that she only writes LGBTQ+ characters, that’s just not true at all. Piper has a broad spectrum of characters with all their own personalities, sexual appetites and more but when she writes her characters not a single one feels like a tick in a box. That’s important to me when I’m reading because box ticking is possibly the most obvious thing you can do and it can easily bring me out of a story, certainly there are very flamboyant people in the gay community just like there are very overly masculine stereotypes in the straight community but in literature too much of that comes off as “hey look I’ve got a gay character in this, aren’t I brave?”. Bottom line? Hailey writes LGBTQ+ Characters like it’s normal, because it is. Her characters just happen to be gay, or trans etc, but they’re real people with real hobbies and likes and dislikes. They think and they feel and they’re as far from a tick in the box as you can get. This is representation done right.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Hailey Piper’s Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is a brilliant collection of (mostly) LGBTQ+ horror stories filled with incredibly strong women (and a few others). It includes a variety of horror elements, from cosmic horror to body horror, with beautiful touches of humor, courage, and love. Some stories give us a satisfying resolution to those unwanted advances that men make on women who are just minding their own business. There’s a fascinating tale of reincarnation and ghosts and the lengths Hailey Piper’s Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is a brilliant collection of (mostly) LGBTQ+ horror stories filled with incredibly strong women (and a few others). It includes a variety of horror elements, from cosmic horror to body horror, with beautiful touches of humor, courage, and love. Some stories give us a satisfying resolution to those unwanted advances that men make on women who are just minding their own business. There’s a fascinating tale of reincarnation and ghosts and the lengths a person might go to in order to escape the attentions of a man. There’s a Halloween-night exorcism that doesn’t go as expected, and it’s an excellent, funny, creative story. In another tale, a woman determines to rid her two girlfriends of their obnoxious boyfriends–for good–and finds a fascinating magical means by which to do so. This one has unexpected consequences! There’s a strange tale of (aliens? cosmic horror creatures?) who are known simply as “aristocrats.” They find particular young women to be very sweet, and society has evolved in unique ways to support them. There’s a young person who takes a remarkable set of steps in order to escape the coming fate of the world, attempting ancient magics to bring a creature of Faerie who will take her away. In another tale, young Miguel loves Omar, who is unfortunately straight. When several young men are lured by a mysterious woman beneath the light of the moon, Miguel is the only one who sees what’s coming. A rather fascinating tale called “Seven Signs He Doesn’t Love You” has section headings like “he didn’t even ask” and “it’s not your imagination.” The ending didn’t quite work for me, but the tale in general shows how important it is for people to watch for the red flags that maybe their significant other doesn’t exactly care for them. Another story shows us a world in which many women are witches, and they are imprisoned for “rehabilitation.” A horror/sci-fi story called “Hairy Jack” takes place on a colony ship, at a time when a woman is found guilty of witchcraft and the witch-hunters plan to space her from an airlock once they find her black dog. One odd and fun tale has a dog for a main character–Daisy–who is being chased by a vicious boy. In another story, a deaf woman realizes that her hearing daughter has listened to an old and seemingly cursed cassette tape, and she’ll do anything to save her child. A strange story involving an “ice cream man” who really isn’t what he seems, and a young trans woman who’s unceremoniously told she should use the men’s bathroom. I don’t really know exactly what happened, but it was fascinating, and made me not want to eat any ice cream! Another story with a trans man as the main character sees him getting involved with the “Horned Brotherhood.” Their espoused desire to embody some sort of primal image of man appeals to him, and their automatic acceptance of him feels good. But of course, they’re up to something down in the basement. There are a couple of other stories with some humorous elements to them, such as a witch who keeps killing a “devourer of species” who’s obsessed with her, and in another story, a woman who’s fleeing someone (clowns are involved). The best story in here, bar none, is the final one–“Recitation of a First Feeding.” Alex is haunted by a ghost girl who does things like stealing his sisters’ makeup, and his parents don’t believe him. He decides to make use of one of his grandma’s unusual stories and summons the Culinary Court. They can eat anything–emotions, memories, personality traits. But once you start feeding them, you can’t stop, lest they make you their final course. It’s like a story of the Fey with their complex rules, crossed with cosmic horror. It’s an amazing blend that I can’t get enough of! The only even tiny sliver of not-perfectness that I experienced was the couple of stories where I didn’t quite get the ending. Overall it’s a brilliant collection with a particular eye toward the inner experiences of trans people. Content note: mutilation, skinning, body horror, mild gore. Also, characters coming to grips with their own gender identity. Original review posted on my blog: https://www.errantdreams.com/2021/05/...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Austin Martin

    Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy in exchange for an honest review. https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo... --- Most author's short story collections often end up being miscellaneous excursions into various motifs and subject matter, rather than a mosaic of a unifying theme. Those types of collections are usually reserved for anthology releases.. Impressively, Piper manages to achieve an anthology feel with an offering of widely Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy in exchange for an honest review. https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo... --- Most author's short story collections often end up being miscellaneous excursions into various motifs and subject matter, rather than a mosaic of a unifying theme. Those types of collections are usually reserved for anthology releases.. Impressively, Piper manages to achieve an anthology feel with an offering of widely distinct stories that represent as many different genres (while still remaining horror at heart) and flavors as do the diverse characters that inhabit them. In fact, the unifying theme could be said to be the characters themselves. Each of them have, as the the title suggests, unfortunate elements of their anatomies that have in some way or another delivered them to horrifying situations. Piper explores gender identity, sexual identity, politics, and race in a way that never feels preachy or surface-level. The stories while dealing with these issues at their core transcend mere social and political commentary and in many stand-out cases are as good as cosmic horror as you'll ready anywhere.. I will admit there a handful of stories that I didn't personally connect with the narrative as much as others, but I couldn't help admiring the incredible writing along the way. Piper seems to drop dream-like, lyrical prose that one can imagine falling away from her fingertips effortlessly. It's truly a pleasure to read and often reminiscent of the likes of Clive Barker and Laird Barron. The only other drawback for me personally were there were select stories that I felt were incredible set ups with creatures, characters, or settings that I adored only to find them ending quickly and abruptly. I know short stories are short, but I found some in the collection to be longer than I would have liked while others were much shorter than I would have liked. Overall, it's a great collection with so many different stories that anyone could find something to love. 4.5 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suz Jay

    Laurel Hightower’s introduction nicely sets the tone for this wonderful speculative fiction collection as does Janice Blaine’s cool cover and internal illustrations. As I made my way through the stories, the first thing that caught my attention were Piper’s awesome openings. Each story start acts as sticky spider silk. Soon the reader is transfixed and trapped in Piper’s wonderful web. Whether the story is a flash fiction piece or the long fiction tale at the end of the book, Piper proves her stor Laurel Hightower’s introduction nicely sets the tone for this wonderful speculative fiction collection as does Janice Blaine’s cool cover and internal illustrations. As I made my way through the stories, the first thing that caught my attention were Piper’s awesome openings. Each story start acts as sticky spider silk. Soon the reader is transfixed and trapped in Piper’s wonderful web. Whether the story is a flash fiction piece or the long fiction tale at the end of the book, Piper proves her story spinning mastery over and over in this collection. My favorites are as follows: “Recitation of the First Feeding,” which includes a line that became the title of this book, is a disturbing fairytale with a stunning theme around identity. Alex seeks to rid himself of a ghost only to trade the problem for a kind of curse. This story equally charmed and horrified me, while sliding inside my skin. “Feast for Small Pieces” is all about recycling and turning a bane into a boon. “The Law of Conservation of Death” tackles a death-defying obsession. “Demons of Particular Taste” involves an exorcism with a twist. This whole story has a humorous element that’s carried along to the perfect ending. “Seven Signs He Doesn’t Love You” follows a couple on an off-season vacation get away. This story made me nostalgic for an old Scooby Doo live action movie only because the setting provided a similar eerie sensation. “Crones in Their Larval State” and “Hairy Jack” both deal with witches, but in vastly different worlds. The plucky protagonist “We All Scream” finds her favorite ice cream treat sullied by a magical creeper. Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy includes 18 stories, which includes three new tales exclusive to this collection. This collection enchanted me, making this a four and a half star read, rounded up to five.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Saffron Roberts

    I want to start by saying that at many points this is an uncomfortable read. But in the best way - each and every story explores the wonderful and monstrous (and in some places, forgotten) aspects of femininity in a way that transcends flesh and societal opinions. It's a necessary read, one that entertains and educates in one heart-warming, heart-shattering, gut wrentching fell swoop with each and every page. One thing that really stood out was the variety in Piper's storytelling. Some stories ar I want to start by saying that at many points this is an uncomfortable read. But in the best way - each and every story explores the wonderful and monstrous (and in some places, forgotten) aspects of femininity in a way that transcends flesh and societal opinions. It's a necessary read, one that entertains and educates in one heart-warming, heart-shattering, gut wrentching fell swoop with each and every page. One thing that really stood out was the variety in Piper's storytelling. Some stories are like mini dystopian thrillers, like Crones in Their Larval State. Some are like sci-fi mindbenders, as with Hairy Jack. Some made me stop reading on the spot and have to put the book down for the night, like Candyland (the most disturbing one for me). All had a sense of loss, a feeling that society had repressed its appreciation for yin, that which holds just as much power and balance as yang, and yet has been persecuted and stomped on. This imagery is everywhere and is in no way tempered to make the reader's experience more comfortable, to soften the blow. It is a raw view of the world we live in, and it sucks. Not the stories, but the lingering feeling they leave you with, and it actually left me feeling a bit depressed here and there. Except. Recitation of the First Feeding comes along. It's the last story of the compilation and a novelette. It's genius. It takes this whole theme of loss, grabs it by the neck, and swallows it. You're left with the aftertaste of strength and ownership, not over others but over one's own identity and fate. It was the perfect, dare I say, optimistic, conclusion to another stunning piece of work by Hailey Piper. I adored this anthology with all my heart, and, as you may have guess, I highly recommend it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Reviewed from Netgalley With each new publication, rising horror star Hailey Piper proves why she is a groundbreaking force to be reckoned with. Fellow scribe and a horror star in her own right, Laurel Hightower, has written a killer introduction for this short story collection, and rightfully so. Herein are stories of men behaving badly who get their just desserts, yes, but so much more. The stories are among the most fantastic, beautiful, poetic horror out there. If you're not reading Piper's w Reviewed from Netgalley With each new publication, rising horror star Hailey Piper proves why she is a groundbreaking force to be reckoned with. Fellow scribe and a horror star in her own right, Laurel Hightower, has written a killer introduction for this short story collection, and rightfully so. Herein are stories of men behaving badly who get their just desserts, yes, but so much more. The stories are among the most fantastic, beautiful, poetic horror out there. If you're not reading Piper's work, you need to change that ASAP. Through reading the collection and writing this review, I struggled to attempt to accurately convey how phenomenal this collection is. Piper's work is incisive and brilliant. It is an interconnected tapestry of predators and prey, revenge, blood, gore, but also subtle horror, a unique fusion of combinations we haven't seen before endlessly. As an added bonus, for readers who dig dark fantasy in horror, they will love this collection. It feels like Piper invents her own dark fairy tales and gives the Brothers Grimm a run for their money. The world-building is off the charts in some of the more fantasy-like stories that would make George RR Martin blush. It's a collection about men who make promises they break and of the women who refuse to take their pain. Piper plays with second person point of view, which is very difficult to get right and to keep readers engaged with. This book must be on every major award list for speculative fiction next year, and win all of them. It is that phenomenal.

  29. 5 out of 5

    LuAnn

    This collection of stories takes us on a journey of self-discovery, struggle, affirmation, and the climax of self-love through a darkly fantastical, incredibly rich lens. Each story invites the reader to unbox its message from a velvety mesh of cosmic, fantasy, horror, and at times humorous driven metaphor. I got equal parts of Disney, Grimm's, and 80's fantasy movies here, `a la The Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth. And it was glorious. This collection is clever and insightful and invites the rea This collection of stories takes us on a journey of self-discovery, struggle, affirmation, and the climax of self-love through a darkly fantastical, incredibly rich lens. Each story invites the reader to unbox its message from a velvety mesh of cosmic, fantasy, horror, and at times humorous driven metaphor. I got equal parts of Disney, Grimm's, and 80's fantasy movies here, `a la The Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth. And it was glorious. This collection is clever and insightful and invites the reader to consider the world outside of the one they inhabit. The imagination and creativity invested in the stories is palpable. Forgive the Adoring Beast absolutely broke my heart. It captures everything horrible and wondrous about obsession through the eyes of a pitiful beast, that is also a predator. I just loved it. Let's talk about Recitation of the First Feeding. All of the story's are worthy of discussion, but this pinnacle just feels so authentic, soulful, and full of heart. For me this is a perfect story. Everything about is is brilliant- like a piece of music, rising and falling, leaving you breathless. I could 'see' the colors and textures of the setting and the brutally gorgeous creatures! I felt the journey of Alexandra and her ultimate reclamation. I read this story 5 times, and it's likely I will read it again. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this collection. But I am now certain that this is something special that captures the art of storytelling from an inspired, fervent author. This book is something to be savored over time, perhaps several times, just as the Culinary Court would have it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aiden Merchant

    Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 ~ Overview: Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is Hailey Piper’s debut collection, featuring eighteen stories. Though most of these shorts have appeared elsewhere, two are brand new. The closing entry is also a never-before-published novelette. If you don’t get around much with anthologies (there are many in the horror community, to be fair) or fiction-hosting magazines, then chances are all of this material will be fresh for you (as it was for me)! The Good: Let’s briefly cov Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 ~ Overview: Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is Hailey Piper’s debut collection, featuring eighteen stories. Though most of these shorts have appeared elsewhere, two are brand new. The closing entry is also a never-before-published novelette. If you don’t get around much with anthologies (there are many in the horror community, to be fair) or fiction-hosting magazines, then chances are all of this material will be fresh for you (as it was for me)! The Good: Let’s briefly cover my favorite entries: - “Feast for Small Pieces” is poetic and gruesome, bringing to mind Sara Tantlinger. - “The Law of Conservation of Death” has a haunting concept that travels through the ages – “…when you’ve begun to claw at your skin – how can he touch you if there’s no skin? – they accuse you of madness…” was probably my favorite line of this collection. - “Candyland” is weird and creepy. I would love to explore this world further, as it made my guts twist and my mind curious. - “Aggressive Mimicry” is a sad story about a heart being pulled apart. I was a bit crushed when Omar reveals why he’s brought Miguel to the pond. - “Crones in Their Larval State” has a great premise. This short feels like the opening scene to a novel I would like to see Piper write. - “Hairy Jack” is a cool and intriguing blend of science-fiction and witchcraft. - “We All Scream” was really odd and unnerving. - “The Burning of the Blueberries” was interesting and fantastical, yet played almost quietly. - “Recitation of the First Feeding” is an emotional, thought-provoking, twisted, and wonderfully entertaining novelette. The Bad: There are a few stories I didn’t like for one reason or another. I also felt like some of the witch stories should have been spread apart some; they felt back-to-back. The Takeaway: Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is poignant, terrifying, and darkly creative! This hefty collection proves Piper’s talent with ease, solidifying her as a rising giant in the horror community. ~  Snow- Capped Press (www.snowcappedpress.com / Issue 01 Expected Spring 2021)  Review by Aiden Merchant (Closed to review requests at time of posting / Refer to social media accounts or website for changes to availability)  Reviewer’s Information: (e) [email protected] / (w) www.aidenmerchant.com

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