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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

Cruel Summer? Cruel Works of Nature by Gemma Amor

Cruel Works of Nature has been on my TBR since I devoured Dear Laura. I finally got the chance to sit down and finish it this morning--and in my opinion, there's no better way to start a day than a couple of horror shots from a master storyteller.

Eleven tales of unnatural terror, each with its own unique illustration, cover a variety of human experiences. From horrifying creatures to quiet monstrosities, there is no shortage of fear in this collection. Short stories are deceptively difficult to do well. You have a limited number of words to successfully develop characters, conflict, tension, and a satisfying resolution. Amor, however, makes her craft look effortless. Cohesive arcs and tight prose, her stories are addicting and creepy in the best possible way. This collection was superb in its execution, and there are several notable contenders for best story. Foliage was perhaps my favorite, as the narrative voice was authentic in its grief and the imagery was spot-on. It felt the most like an old-school Tales from the Crypt episode to me. Girl on Fire is a powerhouse. I won't give any more away because it is a true gem that everyone should read. Scuttlebug is literally my worst nightmare. Eight Legged Freaks without the kitschy humor or David Arquette's face. The Path through Lower Fell has all the Stephen King vibes (sounds Hawaiian, doesn't it?) and I will never look at a herd of cows the same way. Overall, if you're looking for quick, terrifying reads that pack a mighty punch, do yourself a favor and pick up Cruel Works of Nature.


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