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Velocities by Kathe Koja #BookReview

From the award-winning author of The Cipher and Buddha Boy, comes Velocities, Kathe Koja’s second electrifying collection of short fiction. Thirteen stories, two never before published, all flying at the speed of strange.

Title: Velocities | Author: Kathe Koja | Publisher: Meerkat Press | Pub. Date: 21 April 2020 | Length: 200 pages | ISBN: 9781946154231| Genre: Horror| Language: English | Source: Received from publish for review consideration. | Unstarred Review

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Velocities Review

I started Velocities while on my way home from Bahamas. As in, when out-of-country travel was still just a normal thing we could do. It took me ages to get through this slim collection, not because there was anything at all wrong with the stories (it’s objectively a very strong collection) but because I was so not in the right headspace for it. I read the first half of the collection in a few days, then set it down for over a month, dipping back in to read a story or two between other reads. I think if I’d been more consistent in my reading with this one, I would have connected a lot more with the stories. Unfortunately though, it fell victim to my covid-stress reading slump.

Koja’s writing is immaculate. In each story, she builds tension and unease in stories that feel simultaneously mundane and yet so, so wrong. There’s an easiness to her writing that the reader can’t help but sink into. Like you’re being urged to trust her, come along for the journey, but in the pit of your stomach, you know it’s a bad idea. But you go anyway, because you need to see how this all unfolds.

I loved that nearly every story in this collection has a red herring. I would think I had the story figured out, had my eyes locked on where I expected the horror of the story to appear, but Koja manages to pull something completely out of left field nearly every time, leaving me reeling as I went back through to see what hints I’d missed. This was especially true in the first half of the collection, which had some of my favorites of the collection: Baby, Velocity, and Clubs. I was surprised to learn that most of these stories had been previously published, because they flow together in a way that feels very intentional and like they would have been written with this collection in mind.

The second half of the collection shifts to a more subtle, more human horror. Unfortunately this is also where I started losing steam with my reading overall, so this is where I started having a harder time really getting into the stories. They’re a very slow burn, many of them only vaguely bordering on horror, which is something I typically enjoy but in this case I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to properly appreciate what Koja was doing with these stories. There are a few maybe historical, maybe not, since the time period is only mentioned in one of them, stories which were well executed but not something I personally connected with. Of this section of the collection, The Marble Lily was my favorite as it was a bit more defined.

If I had read this at a different time, I’m confident I would have enjoyed this collection more. As it is, I can only review it based on the reading experience that I’ve had, and it was a bit of a miss for me. I am glad that I’ve finally been introduced to Koja’s writing though, and I very much look forward to exploring her other works. I think any reader who enjoys subtle, uncanny stories would absolutely love this collection.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on GoodReads. Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors; however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
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