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July 13, 2023

Small, Burning Things by Cathy Ulrich ~ a Review

by MK French

Small, Burning Things
is a short story collection, and each story is short but punchy. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of short story anthology Small, Burning Things by Cathy Ulrich
July 2023; Okay Donkey Press; 979-8986632223
ebook, print (192 pages); anthology

We open with the thoughts of a girl about to burn, and her thoughts are all focused on the social niceties that girls endure in an effort to belong. There's uncertainty and a kind of grief, fire and a sense of loss. It sets a tone for the stories, all sharp edges and without neat conclusions. The loss is manifest in the children in farm country whose father drowned, a girl marrying a ghost, the mother smoking cigarettes she found under her missing daughter's bed, a twin grieving her lost sister, the woman constantly pregnant and unable to be anything else.

There are also stories of transformation. Girls with robot parts, pieces of a magician's assistant living after being severed, people changing their roles in society. Some of these are third person stories, some are second person. A lot of the stories are uncomfortable, dealing with the negative emotions that people hate discussing or feeling. Whether it's death or loss or cheating or murder, these are tiny fragments of stories, some with a kick that the ending gives, making them that much more painful or disturbing to read. Their brevity means you get to give it meaning, and what the fire will mean in each story.

Buy Small, Burning Things at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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