Cover Image: Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy in exchange for an honest review!

Were he to write about me, it would be my fault, but the pen is in my hand today.

It was from the very first story, “Feast for Small Pieces,” that I knew Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy would be something special. Hailey Piper’s words resonated with me in a way that made me want to punch the patriarchy. Alright, alright, I feel that way everyday but the point is, this short is so phenomenal and was a perfect way to get the reader excited for the rest of the collection.

Hailey Piper never fails to amaze me with her writing and range. At times, I’m in awe with the lyrical quality of her words, while other times I’m laughing out loud over a demon attached to a Skip-It (“Demons of Particular Taste”). We love a Horror Queen that can hit all of the spooky spots. Each time a story ended, I would promise myself, “just one more!” and ended up reading a little over half the collection in one-sitting. This is something very rare for me, as I’m not huge into collections. Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy is officially one of my favorite short story collections.

Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy has queer themes sprinkled throughout, and when I say sprinkled, what I really mean is that Hailey Piper threw eight cups of queer into the recipe and it’s fantastic. Loves the representation.

I’m not a chainsaw kind of girl, but her teeth sure are pretty when they catch the sunshine.

Top Three Favorites in Collection:

“Feast for Small Pieces”
“I’m Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, but…” Note, this also wins best title ever.
Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy has possession, a spooky ice cream man, witchcraft, reincarnation, and more! I 10/10 recommend picking this collection up, because on top of Hailey Piper’s A+++++ writing, there is seriously something for everyone. You really just can’t lose with this one.

Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads, writes the introduction to Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy and she really sums up how I feel about Hailey Piper and her work so well. Basically, if you want to hear even more of my thoughts, just pick up Unfortunate Elements of Anatomy & read the intro, because same.

Any quotes used in review is from an early copy of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy and may not line up with the finished copy.
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What an absolutely magnificent collection of stories. My first introduction to Hailey Piper was The Worm and His Kings. I loved her characters and imagery so much, so I swiped an advance copy of Unfortunate Elements of my Anatomy from NetGalley.

If you are a woman, queer, or trans, you will probably see yourself in these pages. Hailey Piper writes incredibly meaningful horror, and she manages to sneak meaning in even when a story is silly and quirky (see *We All Scream* for an excellent example).

The stories in this collection are going to stay with me for a long while, and this is a book I will definitely be purchasing a copy of. My favorites were Feast for Small Pieces, We All Scream, The Burning of the Blueberries, and Recitation of the First Reading. Wonderful collection!
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After reading and enjoying a few of Hailey’s other stories, I was excited to dig into this collection! As with most short story collections,  there are always some that don’t clique as well as the others and I did find I struggled with more of these stories than I would have liked, but overall there were some real gems and I just find Hailey’s writing so haunting and beautifully poetic. 

“𝙄’𝙢 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙖𝙬 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙩𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝 𝙨𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙚. “

One of my favorite stories was the last one, Recitation of the First Feeding. The twisted storyline and creepy characters made for a great read. And it is in this story we learn of the origin of the collections title. 

“𝙈𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙖𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜, 𝙜𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙤𝙧 𝙣𝙤𝙩, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙗𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙚𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙖𝙪𝙣𝙩, 𝙩𝙤𝙤, 𝙖 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙙 𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙞𝙥 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙣𝙜𝙪𝙚, 𝙖 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙛𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙖𝙧 𝙮𝙚𝙩 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬𝙣.”

To summarize, I think Hailey is a great writer and puts to paper some immensely creative imagery and prose. This will not be the last title of hers I pick up. 

I give this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
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Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is my third read from Hailey Piper, and I’ve given five stars to all three. An amazing writer, Piper gives us lyrical stories that make you uncomfortable, yet you can’t look away.

This collection contains 18 short stories, all horror, but genre-bending all the same. We get ghost stories, body horror, possession stories, witchcraft, secret societies, and even a sci-fi horror (yes!!!) all in less than 300 pages. Y’all, Hailey spoiled us with this collection. There’s revenge. There’s gender euphoria. There’s cannibalism. There’s folklore.

Some of my favorites in this collection were “Dreams of Particular Taste,” “Candyland,” “Hairy Jack,” and “The Burning of the Blueberries.”

If you haven’t read any of Hailey Piper’s work, go now! Run. Faster. 

Thank you to NetGalley, The Seventh Terrace, and Hailey Piper for this advanced review copy!
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Laurel Hightower’s introduction nicely sets the tone for this wonderful speculative fiction collection as does Janice Blaine’s cool cover and internal illustrations.

As I made my way through the stories, the first thing that caught my attention were Piper’s awesome openings. Each story start acts as sticky spider silk. Soon the reader is transfixed and trapped in Piper’s wonderful web.

Whether the story is a flash fiction piece or the long fiction tale at the end of the book, Piper proves her story spinning mastery over and over in this collection. 

My favorites are as follows:

“Recitation of the First Feeding,” which includes a line that became the title of this book, is a disturbing fairytale with a stunning theme around identity. Alex seeks to rid himself of a ghost only to trade the problem for a kind of curse. This story equally charmed and horrified me, while sliding inside my skin. 

“Feast for Small Pieces” is all about recycling and turning a bane into a boon. 

“The Law of Conservation of Death” tackles a death-defying obsession. 

“Demons of Particular Taste” involves an exorcism with a twist. This whole story has a humorous element that’s carried along to the perfect ending.

“Seven Signs He Doesn’t Love You” follows a couple on an off-season vacation get away. This story made me nostalgic for an old Scooby Doo live action movie only because the setting provided a similar eerie sensation. 

“Crones in Their Larval State” and “Hairy Jack” both deal with witches, but in vastly different worlds. 

The plucky protagonist “We All Scream” finds her favorite ice cream treat sullied by a magical creeper. 

Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy includes 18 stories, which includes three new tales exclusive to this collection. 

This collection enchanted me, making this a four and a half star read, rounded up to five.
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Everything Hailey writes is solid gold dripping in gore and cosmic chills and this is no exception. I can't even pick a favorite. They're all awesome but the one that really sticks with me is We All Scream. It paints vivid images in melted vanilla and fudge. It's enough to make anyone lose their taste for ice cream.
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This collection leans far more heavily on fantasy than on horror, and it's just not to my taste. Lovely writing, though.
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While I have read other works of Hailey Piper’s, this was my first collection of short stories written by her. Like her other work, I was not a bit disappointed. Hailey is famous for creating consistently excellent writing. This collection has 18 stories, a little something for every taste, be it body horror, queer horror, cosmic horror, dark fantasy, and more. 
With it being a collection of short stories, I thought that I would be able to jump from story to story, but this was not the case. Some stories required deep thought and reflection.
As with all her writing that I have read, there are deep themes of trans rights and gay rights, of love, of isolation and loneliness, of longing for acceptance, and despair upon being rejected. Themes of tearing yourself apart and rebuilding yourself into the person you were born to be. 
For me, the standout stories of this collection were “Feast for Small Pieces,” where a woman brings home a man who comes on to her sexually, only to use the best parts of him to heal others who are sick or broken, “The Law of Conservation of Death,” tells the story of a ghost who pursues the woman he claims to own him throughout her every reincarnation, and “Candyland”, my favorite in the collection, where teenage girls make themselves “sweet” to be valuable to aristocrats for whims until they are consumed by them. 
I could go on and on about this book. I highlighted and copied so many quotes that spoke to me, but I will not add them here because this review would be nothing but quotes. You will get something from every story in this collection, some deeper truth that will strike you when you read Hailey’s words. 
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy is an amazing collection of stories by the supremely talented Hailey Piper. The stories contained herein range from dark fantasy to the macabre. The themes and ideas explored can be both touching and terrifying. I honestly enjoyed every story. 

Some of my favorites were:
Feast for Small Pieces
The Law of Conservation for Death
I'm Not a Chainsaw Kind of Girl, But...
Seven Signs He Doesn't Love you
Hairy Jack
The Burning of the Blueberries
Recitation of the First Feeding.

A copy of this book was provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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Enmeshing horror with dark fantasy, Piper's collection of eighteen new and previously printed tales stretches across a diverse universe of styles and characters.  Witches, monsters, elder gods, secret societies, and cosmic realities all find a new face under her tutelage. While often collections can be haphazard—an accumulation of bobs and bits that often aren't cohesive—it's Piper's characters that unify this collection. In each of these carefully molded stories, her characters are put in situations to experienced things distressingly poignant and ultimately metamorphic. They all share the underlying theme of becoming something not wholly unexpected, something that has been there all along waiting oh, so patiently to say "I exist". 

Piper has been on my horror radar since the publication of The Possession of Natalie Glasgow and she continues to deliver narratives that have snapping jaws and a fiery soul at their core. Her writing is often lyrical, wrapping itself around you as you stop to ponder the greater meaning hidden inside each piece. A few favorites from the collection: "Feast for Small Pieces" brings about poetic undoing in that the parts could be greater than the whole; "We All Scream", where the quandary of which restroom to use becomes much more terrifying set to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel"; and "The Burning of Blueberries", the very core of Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy, which must be experienced.
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I am a sucker for a good set of short stories and these stories were more than I expected. It's not horror in any typical way but stories that stay with you and squirm under your skin. I loved the feminist bent of them and it was fun to be in the mind of female characters experiencing these odd, terrifying, and sometimes funny events. Hailey Poper is a new author for me but this won't be the last time I partake in her writing. 

I received an e-arc of this from the publisher through NetGalley.
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I had the privilege and the honor to read Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy by Hailey Piper.

Hailey is one of those authors that writes incredibly consistently. If she wrote the instructions on how to build furniture I would read them.

Hailey doesn't disappoint with this book you get 18, yes 18 short stories. All of them just as incredible as the next. I have a spot in my brain where "We All Scream" lives. It's in there and it's ruining my life and love for sweet desserts.  The other 17 stories are all so good and you will really root for the characters. 

The stories are based around nightmares, love, femininity, and queer horror. It's hard to classify them as a whole because they are so different. 

Do you yourself a favor and pick this up when it comes out. You deserve this book in your life.
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Laurel Hightower sets Piper's readers up with a great introduction.
I read this collection slowly during WiHM (February) by making time for it when I could—I've been busy to say the least. Piper's title is as apt as you can get when keeping the stories' themes in mind. As a self-publisher and someone who's worked closely with an anthology project, I've got to admire the book's formatting before I even get to its content. The inclusion of story illustrations, no matter how large or small, in collections is always a treat.

Of the eighteen stories in this collection, fifteen are reprints and three are brand new. Though it's worth saying all the stories were new to me. And of the newly written ones, the final story was one of my favorites! There's a lot of pain and heartbreak in these stories as well as hope and understanding, which I'll assume, all allude to the trans experience. Not saying all, but perhaps Piper's experience is bleeding through the pages before us, making this collection even more personal than other works. Piper's prose has the ability to stop you in your tracks and gaze at its beauty.

It can be hard to review collections as one doesn't want to give many details away, especially with such brevity. But I think you will want to read this collection once it goes live in May 2021. In these haunting pages, you'll find witches, ghosts, creepy creatures, et al.

Standout stories include: The Law of Conservation of Death, Aggressive Mimicry, Crones In Their Larval State (time to write this into a full-length, Piper!), We All Scream, and Recitation of the First Feeding.
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Most author's short story collections often end up being miscellaneous excursions into various motifs and subject matter, rather than a mosaic of a unifying theme. Those types of collections are usually reserved for anthology releases.. Impressively, Piper manages to achieve an anthology feel with an offering of widely distinct stories that represent as many different genres (while still remaining horror at heart) and flavors as do the diverse characters that inhabit them. In fact, the unifying theme could be said to be the characters themselves. Each of them have, as the the title suggests, unfortunate elements of their anatomies that have in some way or another delivered them to horrifying situations. Piper explores gender identity, sexual identity, politics, and race in a way that never feels preachy or surface-level. The stories while dealing with these issues at their core transcend mere social and political commentary and in many stand-out cases are as good as cosmic horror as you'll ready anywhere.. I will admit there a handful of stories that I didn't personally connect with the narrative as much as others, but I couldn't help admiring the incredible writing along the way. Piper seems to drop dream-like, lyrical prose that one can imagine falling away from her fingertips effortlessly. It's truly a pleasure to read and often reminiscent of the likes of Clive Barker and Laird Barron. The only other drawback for me personally were there were select stories that I felt were incredible set ups with creatures, characters, or settings that I adored only to find them ending quickly and abruptly. I know short stories are short, but I found some in the collection to be longer than I would have liked while others were much shorter than I would have liked. Overall, it's a great collection with so many different stories that anyone could find something to love. 4.5 stars.
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With each new publication, rising horror star Hailey Piper proves why she is a groundbreaking force to be reckoned with. Fellow scribe and a horror star in her own right, Laurel Hightower, has written a killer introduction for this short story collection, and rightfully so. 

Herein are stories of men behaving badly who get their just desserts, yes, but so much more. The stories are among the most fantastic, beautiful, poetic horror out there. If you're not reading Piper's work, you need to change that ASAP. 

Through reading the collection and writing this review, I struggled to attempt to accurately convey how phenomenal this collection is. Piper's work is incisive and brilliant. It is an interconnected tapestry of predators and prey, revenge, blood, gore, but also subtle horror, a unique fusion of combinations we haven't seen before endlessly.  

As an added bonus, for readers who dig dark fantasy in horror, they will love this collection. It feels like Piper invents her own dark fairy tales and gives the Brothers Grimm a run for their money. The world-building is off the charts in some of the more fantasy-like stories that would make George RR Martin blush. It's a collection about men who make promises they break and of the women who refuse to take their pain. Piper plays with second person point of view, which is very difficult to get right and to keep readers engaged with.  

This book must be on every major award list for speculative fiction next year, and win all of them. It is that phenomenal.
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It's so tough to review collections, but I've read a few short stories by Hailey Piper before, and I yearned for a full dose of them.

The good news:  Piper's story quality is very consistent.  I rated every one of these stories either 4 stars or 3 stars.
The bad news:  There were more 3-star stories than 4-star stories.

This isn't necessarily a negative thing.  I still consider 3-stars to be good.  I just didn't think there were any GREAT ones in here.  BUT, these were the standouts:

"Aggressive Mimicry"
"Seven Signs He Doesn't Love You"
"Crones in Their larval State"
"The Burning of the Blueberries"

"The Burning of the Blueberries" may be my favorite in the entire collection.

Jason Cavallaro
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I found this collection to be fast-paced, quirky and lyrical. Some of the stories weren’t as strong, but the final story: Recitation of a First Feeding was a stunning achievement in the bizarre and haunting.
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This is my first read from Hailey Piper but it definitely won’t be my last. First I must mention the wonderful introduction by Laurel Hightower which sets the scene perfectly.
There’s a lot of soul-searching in these stories, a lot of angst and pain, but also an incredible feeling of reinventing oneself. I love this line... “He’ll fade from the world little by little while the good he’s done persists.” This one sentence sums up the heart of this collection.
The writing is immaculate, poetic, haunting. At times so surreal that you have to stop and think about its meaning. This book is not a page-turner, but I mean that in the best way possible. It is not a book to be devoured in one or two sittings. Instead, it should be savored, meditated upon, to bring out its best flavor. 
There are so many beautiful sentences and moments of imagery throughout that I could fill half the review just quoting. I highlighted many such incidences as I read. But I won’t do that, instead I’ll give you one more example: “Death comes for your heart in the night while his breath strokes your white hair.” Simple, but so poignant!
Among my favorite stories are...
Seven Signs he Doesn’t Love You - I loved the second person narrative of this one, as well as the way the island of Keso and its mythology is evoked.
Loved the POV in Daisy and its tongue in cheek ending.
Loved, loved, loved We All Scream! This one conjured the existential predicament of the protagonist’s dilemma to perfection. Loved its dream-like quality, the metaphors used to describe how sick with nerves the protagonist feels. It also forces you to think about how we take things such as which restroom to enter for granted and how this is not the case for so many people.
The Burning of the Blueberries for its metaphorical expression of transgender surgery. So powerful!
Forgive the Adoring Beast for its witchy imagery. Incredibly visual!
Recitation of the First Feeding for its emotive qualities – poignant, an even more weird version of Alice and the Mad Hatter’s tea party. This one helps you to understand the relevance of the collection’s title. I loved this story so much that I know I will re-read it in the future.
I really enjoyed Crones in the Larval State but it came to an abrupt end and I found myself wanting more.
My least favorite was Hairy Jack, but that was because of its sci-fi setting, something I’m not a fan of. Of course, others will love it for that very reason.
I also liked the way in which many of the stories blended seamlessly into the next, like some aspect of the previous story prompted the next.
Some stories, or rather the mood they elicited, stayed with me for days. Don’t be surprised if they creep into your dreams.
Overall, 4.5 stars from me, rounded up to 5.
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This is my second book of Hailey Piper’s. I loved A Worm and His Kings. I went into this thinking I’d love this too and I was right!

I just click with her writing style. It’s so poetic and flows so naturally. I can get so immersed in her storytelling that I forget time and finish things in one sitting!

She had me from the very first story, Feast For Small Pieces. What an absolutely lovely idea! That the horrible people in life can bring peace and joy back to others who deserve it. As an abuse survivor, this story made me feel powerful. I’ll be re-reading again I’m sure.

My other favorite was the novelette, Recitation of the First Feeding. The descriptions of the characters, most of all The Culinary Court. I mean these characters were amazing! And horrible. I want to know more. This should be a full length novel as I’d love to know about all the other feasts! The ending was superb! 

I don’t want to leave without mentioning the fantastic cover art! This seemed to be the green lady in The Burning of the Blueberries, another haunting and beautiful story. I hope she found peace.

Such an immersive set of stories. I’m so glad I got to read!
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If you’re like me, you’ve probably been seeing the name Hailey Piper everywhere, and there is a good reason for that. She is an absolutely amazing writer! This collection is even further evidence of that.

The title is fitting for this collection, but don’t be fooled. There is a bit of everything in here, creatures, witchcraft, ghosts, demonic possession, all done in Piper’s unique style. That style, is the real reason to read this in my opinion. Piper’s exceptional prose seems to crawl under your skin and find some deep seeded emotion to pray upon. I loved it!

As with any collection like this, everyone will have their own favorites. Some were better than others for me,  but they all had strong writing and were well thought out. Oddly enough, I wasn’t a huge fan of the variety of story length. Maybe I’ve just been programmed by anthologies with generally cohesive story lengths, or maybe I just wished the ones I liked were longer, but either way it did throw me off a bit. 

Altogether, this is a great read that truly showcases the author’s talents, and I think any horror fan will enjoy it. I definitely look forward to reading more of Piper’s work.
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