Book review: Darkest Sunlight by Xtina Marie

What a novelty it is for me to review Darkest Sunlight, a poetic narrative by Xtina Marie.

“The heart was made to be broken.” – Oscar Wilde
To allow your heart to soar, you must risk the depths. Darkest Sunlight is the third poetic narrative from Xtina Marie. In this journey, readers will begin in the darkest of places yet revealed to us by this critically acclaimed poet, only to then find themselves thrust into the brightness of love before their eyes and minds can fully adjust. It is this shocking contrast which best conveys what it is to love, lose, and love again.
In Dark Musings, Xtina explored sadness. In Light Musings, she explored the intricacies of a loving heart. In Darkest Sunlight, Xtina Marie compares the opposite ends of the spectrum, and in doing so, she found a place darker than black.

My thoughts on Darkest Sunlight

Darkest Sunlight is a collection of poems exploring inner torment, lust, obsession, malice, revenge, rage and insanity, as well as heartfelt and erotic love. Marie delves into the underworld of dark intentions and their fulfilment, but also into the nature of love, of longing, of satisfaction and completion. Throughout are touches of dry humor and clever twists, as the reader is taken on an inner journey that is sure to evoke memories and reflections.

Among my favorites are ‘Junkie’ and ‘His Muse’, both demonstrating Marie’s incisive wit. In Darkest Sunlight Marie displays her profound understanding of what it is to be fully human, with all of our depravities and secret desires laid bare.

The entire collection employs the simple form of the classic nursery rhyme with its pairs of rhyming couplets. The meter varies, Marie employing various combinations of dimeter and trimeter lines, but always with that rhyme that harkens back to childhood. Using this poetic form to convey very adult themes is an ironic move, one that draws the reader into the verse almost like an enchantment. Further, Marie’s compositional style displays considerable prowess, for who can compose an entire book-length collection of prose and sustain such a rhyme with finesse? Poetic form constrains; the poet must function within it and create meaning whilst maintaining fluidity and flow; all this, Marie achieves with aplomb. Darkest Sunlight is a triumph and one that will appeal to lovers of this form of poetry.

 

Find your copy of Darkest Sunlight by Xtina Marie on Amazon

 

 

If this poetic narrative had to be summed up in one word it is ‘passion’.

 

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Review: Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2

I’m thrilled to share my review of Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2, and anthology of horror stories compiled by P. Mattern, edited by Ztina Marie and published by HellBound Books.

http://www.hellboundbookspublishing.com/demonsdevilsdenizens2.html

“Another anthology of otherworldy delights, tales of horror, dread and hellish inhabitants, – all lovingly compiled by award-winning author P. Mattern.

Our second journey into the darkest recesses of Satan’s pit has superlative tales of nefarious delight by: Andrew MacKay, Ryan Woods, PC3, Richard Raven, Dante Crossroad, Josh Schlossberg, Brianna M. Fenty, Paul Lubaczewski, Marcus Mattern, R.L. Chambers, Gerri R Grayson, John T. M. Herres, James Nichols, Feind Gottes, P. Mattern & Lynne Ligocki Gauthier, R.L.Chambers, Richard Alan Long, Jaap Boekestein, James H, Longmore, Savannah Morgan, DJ Shaw, Bill Evans, Sergio “ente per ente” Palumbo, Jay Michael Wright II, and the incomparable Stephanie Kelley.”

As a reader of short stories I’m hard to please. I’m looking for substance and depth. I want to know the author has thought long and hard about character, setting and life in general. I’m not interested so much in being shocked or horrified. I’m interested in how the author is pulling it off. I want to be impressed. Also, I want wit. I guess that makes me hard to please. Especially regarding an anthology, a book readers will delve into when the fancy takes them, sampling rather than reading from end to end.

I opened Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2 not knowing what I was to be treated to, save each story was destined to be either revolting, terrifying or both. What I discovered was a delight. Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell: Vol 2 brims with cracking reads; the hallmark of the volume, strong writing. From the thoroughly revolting, edge-of-seat horror-crime story ‘Duplicate Counterpart’ by John T.M. Herres, to the mysterious and compelling, and ultimately shocking ‘There Shall Be No Night’ by Josh Schlossberg, and beyond, there is much to savour between the covers of this anthology.

Each story is distinct. James H. Longmore’s ‘My Possession: An Introspective’, a presentation of the state of mind of a sales executive turned writer wrestling with his inner demon called Dave, provides incisive wit and dark hilarity. As does ‘Beauty is the Beast’ by Gerri R. Gray, her protagonist, Vanity de Milo, a macabre twist on the children’s fairy tale the story alludes to.

Quoting from ‘The Huntress’ by Savannah Morgan, gives a taste of the sort of writing to be found in the anthology:

“Guts and entrails fell out like gruesome chunky soft-serve ice cream from a dispenser on the fritz.”

No matter the genre, sentences like that make a reader like me tingle.

Feind Gottes foreshadows his dark tale, ‘Black Lodge’, with some powerful imagery:

“A simple black lodge in a forgotten wood where ghosts feared to haunt but memories were free to crush a man’s soul.”

Like the other stories in this anthology, Gotte’s tale grips to the very last sentence.

The authors of these dark tales have stretched their imaginations, brought to bear their wit and drawn on their many and varied insights into the human condition. Not only that, they’ve applied themselves to the task of writing, and writing well. The result is a must read.

Buy your copy here.

Check out more from HellBound Books here