#Blog Tour Review: How To Bring Him Back by Claire HM

Fly On The Wall Press are one of my favourite discoveries of the past couple of years. From their literary stable has bolted some of the best poetry and flash fiction. And their latest release How To Bring Him Back: A story by Claire HM is no exception.

A novella in flash set across two time frames, roughly 20 years apart, this is story of Cait. Present day Cait is on her yearly writing retreat, trying to conjure up a long overdue apology which only now is she ready to write.

The Cait of the mid 1990’s seems lost and wandering. She is living post-university and has recent stepped away from her Masters degree. Working in a bar, living hand to mouth in a bed sit, Cait’s life is held up by the strings of alcohol and drugs, compounded by a unstopped sexual attraction to Rik.

Stadd is her friend. He looks out for her, steadies her and quietly worships her, but despite all this it is Rik, the archetypal bad boy that Cait is drawn too.

In her haze of self destruction Cait bounces between the two men and in the process sets about breaking Stadd’s trust and his heart. The story is a simple one; one often told and often repeated but with a sharpness of language and a sting in the tail, Claire HM brings this inflammatory situation to a new life.

Weaving the magic that keeps great flash fiction alive Claire creates and then develops three believable and compelling characters. Each has their own motivations, each with their own exploitable flaws, which burst from the page. Their interactions are by turn tender, disturbing, painful and delightfully complex.

It is the dual timeline that really makes this a novella such a triumph. Cait’s later reflections are heartfelt and lyrical. They provide the perfect balance to the earlier lost and lonely Cait. This is a character who grows, who develops and who takes heed of her past.

Thank you Fly On The Wall for inviting me to be part of this tour. It has been a pleasure to read and review such a punchy little book.

Rachel x

And there is more…

For more reactions and reviews to How To Bring Him Back check out the rest of the blog tour below…

I don’t review enough poetry… #Inherent and #Medusa; Poetry Reviews.

The title says it all…I don’t review enough poetry! And in all honesty I probably don’t read enough poetry either. Despite being an English Graduate poetry has always intimidated me just a little bit. I am worried I will be missing some deeper meaning and feel wholly unqualified to comment and explain.

But maybe it is living through a pandemic or maybe it’s just a confidence that comes with age but suddenly I am finding that I am reading more poetry and approaching it with a wholly different attitude. I am finally asking what this poem says to me, rather than what it is supposed to mean. I am taking the pressure off myself and finding it all the more accessible and enjoyable.

So when Isabelle and Kayla from Fly on the Wall Press offered me the chance to read and review not one, but two of their new titles I grabbed the chance to bring a long overdue poetry review to the blog.

First up is the collection of poems written by Lucia Orellana Damacela , entitled Inherent. These poems form a beautiful patchwork quilt of poetic memories, of touchstones in the poet’s life. They read like a time capsule, providing the reader with lyrical,stolen snapshots of a lifetime of memories.

Throughout the volume there is a sense of the poet growing up and, moving through her consciousness, are the fragments of the things that stay and make her what she is today. These poems are a tribute to and a record of the people, places and experiences that have formed the building blocks of her life.

Throughout the poems runs a deep vein of love, loss and family. Take for example the powerful and tangible expression of grief found in the poems Mourning and Embroidered Past. Sand Burial sees the evolution and progression of this grief and a gentle sense of moving on. There is nothing assumed or trivial about change, in fact it’s disconcerting nature is expressed beautifully in the poem Allitude

Hope and joy, also litter this work, interspersed with pain, a true reflection of a life well lived. The words that form Drenched are heartfelt and moving, a simple poignant portrayal of the birth of her son.

Taken as a whole this collection had a haunting sense of who and what has been important to the poet; of how their essence is found in snatches of memories; memories that imprint themselves on our very senses.

From a very personal collection of individual poems, we move to one longer but equally accomplished lyrical poem. Welcome to the unique and edgy retelling of the Greek myth Medusa; welcome to Medusa Retold by Sarah Wallis.

In many ways Sarah Wallis has stayed true to the essence of the myth. Nuala, our central character is fiery and vivid right from the off. With her natural and apparent affinity with sea, the links to the original myth and Poseidon resonate immediately. But the modern setting is sharp, crystalline and raw. From Nuala’s snake like dreads to her quirky nature, Sarah had harnessed a vibrant, punky feel. There is a sense of wildness and power around Nuala, driving her forwards and pushing the boundaries.

When tragedy strikes, when the sea turns against Nuala in the cruelest way, taking not only someone she loves but turning a passion to pain, her strength hardens to hate. When she finds herself outcast, blamed and vilified all her internal fire becomes uncontrolled.

In her grief Nuala seems to become a monster and the links to Medusa, broken and misunderstood, begin to resonate more strongly. The poem rings with a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of anger, rage, grief and revenge. The escape from her pain is jagged and raw; it is hard, flint like and darkly compelling.

Here are two poetic works; completely different, but both moving, authentic, powerful and filled with skill, passion and emotion.

If this is taking me out of my comfort zone, I need to stray more often.

Rachel x