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Author: Shane Hawk
Published: 26th of October 2020 – Black Hills Press
Format: Digital – 84 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today, I am finally bringing you an author request that I was very excited to read and which did not disappoint. I was so happy when Shane reached out to me asking if I wanted to read his book and I couldn’t say no. I am a little bit of a wimp and used to really be scared by anything horror, but I think The Shining by Stephen King scared the scare out of me because in the last year or so, I’ve not been bothered by horror books, so I decided to give this a go!
I was also really looking forward to this book because it is written by an indigenous author about indigenous life and indigenous characters. You’ve probably heard this before but I’m obsessed with learning and reading about indigenous people, so this was a great pick for me! Anyway, enough waffling, on to the review.
Thank you so much Shane for reaching out to me and for sending me a free copy of your book to read and review in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Welcome to Anoka, Minnesota, a small city just outside of the Twin Cities dubbed “The Halloween Capital of the World” since 1937. Here before you lie several tales involving bone collectors, pagan witches, werewolves, skeletal bison, and cloned children. It is up to you to decipher between fact and fiction as the author has woven historical facts into his narratives. With his debut horror collection, Cheyenne & Arapaho author Shane Hawk explores themes of family, grief, loneliness, and identity through the lens of indigenous life.
Anoka by Shane Hawk is a horror short story collection that explores multiple themes pertaining to and affecting indigenous people in the U.S. I was really intrigued by the blurb when I read it a few months ago and I am really glad I decided to read it because it was so good.
I was quite worried that I would be scared, but actually, I wasn’t. However, if you are a scaredy-cat like me and think “Oh great, I’ll give it a go”, I have to warn you that although this is not scary, it is terribly creepy (also please check trigger warnings at the end of this review).
This was a very short book that I read in less than an hour so it’s not going to be the biggest review, but I do have a lot of things to say. Firstly, if you know me, you know I have a thing for books with atmosphere, I don’t know what it is, but if a book has a good setting and overall “feel” to it, I’ll whizz through it. I especially like books with dark and what I call “atmospheric” atmospheres because they get me hooked and don’t let me go. This book has such an atmosphere and from the minute I turned the first page, I was completely immersed in these short stories.
There are 6 short stories in this collection, each of varying lengths and each very unique. I think my favourite one was either Soilborne or Transfigured. Soilborne was creepy as hell and you only understand just HOW creepy it is when you read the final line and realise what is happening. It’s the first one in the collection and as I read the final part, my eyes must have bulged out of my head and I just thought “oh wow”. And Transfigured really was the story perfect for me, I can’t tell you why because you have to read it to find out, but if you know of a creature that I love, then you know why I loved this story (and I’m not talking about witches or vampires, so what’s left?).
I don’t think I have ever read such a unique, haunting collection of short stories and the author did a fabulous job of writing engaging stories that give you massive creeps, while also discussing very important topics in indigenous life, which is the part that I think I enjoyed the more. In mainstream media, we don’t get to hear about these things, which is a shame and is not okay, we have to do better, and this story collection is a step towards doing better.
The author’s writing style is gripping. Every single new story captivated me and my brain was working overtime to try to figure out what would happen to who and why, but I would never have guessed any of the things that happen. I really like that these stories took me by surprise and just how unique and new they were, so here I go on a hunt to find books like this.
Finally, I also really enjoyed reading the note at the start which explained why the author wrote this collection and why he chose to set it in the town of Anoka. At the end, there are also story notes that go with each story and explain more about them. I don’t usually read acknowledgements (I know that’s bad of me), but this time I did, and I’m so glad because I loved learning more about Shane and his stories. I also really appreciate his author recommendations!
Trigger Warnings: rats, death, drugs, alcoholism, depression, chronic pain, possession, hallucinations, spiders, strange/yucky bodily fluids, nightmares, blood, insects, vivid animal death, cannibalism, murder, disappearance and racism.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was a short story collection that I was at first sceptical to go into because I am yet to realise that these things don’t scare me anymore or as much as before. It also took me by surprise because of how creepy and sinister it is. Don’t pick this book because I said it’s not scary if you don’t like creepy things, very hard-hitting subjects, passages that make you think “oh my” (not necessarily because it’s good – and it is – but also because oh my god what the hell just happened).
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I liked each story because they were all so different, unique, they taught me things about indigenous life and gave me some insight into indigenous experiences which is something we need more of or to be honest, something we need to make an effort of looking for and reading ourselves instead of waiting for these books to be pushed into our hands.
I gave this book 4 stars (full ASPECTS rating below) and if you are not creeped out or triggers by any TW that I listed above, then I highly, HIGHLY, recommend you go read this book. It is very short, you can read it in one sitting, but golly will it make you think and you’ll not be the same once you put it down again. I will definitely be reading more books by this author as I just loved everything about this short story collection.
Thank you once again to Shane for letting me read your book, it was a fantastic experience.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this book, see you soon, stay safe,
P.S. don’t look under the bed 😉
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – SHANE HAWK
Shane Hawk is an emerging indigenous writer of dark fiction. Hawk received a BA in history from California State University San Marcos as well as a single-subject credential for both social science and English. When he’s not working with students or writing fiction, he enjoys the outdoors, photography, making music, and watching classic ’80s movies—all with his fiancée, Victoria Fletcher.
It is a short story collection, but I feel like each of these elements were answered in the book, so I will use them to score today’s book.
Atmosphere – 8
Start – 7.5
Pacing – 7
Ending – 7.5
Characters – 6.5
Theme – 6.5
Style – 7.5
Total = 50.5
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