Cover Image: Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy

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Member Reviews

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:

"Candyland"
"Aggressive Mimicry"
"Seven Signs He Doesn't Love You"
"Crones in Their larval State"
"Daisy"
"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.
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3819588239
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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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A solid collection from Hailey Piper, but in all honesty, only about a third of the stories worked for me. That doesn't mean to say they won't work for you.
There's plenty here to satisfy many tastes, providing you like horror of course.
Standouts for me were:


FEAST FOR SMALL PIECES: The opening story had a real no-nonsense feel about it. You'll see what I mean when you read it.

THE LAW OF CONVERSATION OF DEATH: A reincarnation story that I reckon could be interpreted differently by each reader.
Really admirable.

CANDYLAND: A dark and sordid tale seen through young innocent eyes. Really well written.

RECITATION OF THE FIRST FEEDING: The last story in the book. Absolutely loved this one. It brought my overall score up for this collection. 


Other honourable mentions for stories
JORMUNGANDR'S DANCE: The line "A worm made of corpses" I felt was just so visual. 

AGGRESSIVE MIMICRY: A small attention to detail which I always admire. There is talk of going to the cinema to see Back to the Future or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I immediately had to know if they could be on at the cinema at the same time. And yes, they were around a week or so apart. I love when an author takes time to make sure these things are correct whether it's fantasy or not. Real life details should be correct. It makes the unreal feel more real. Know what I mean?

And I also have to mention the foreword by Laurel Hightower which I thought was just wonderful.


It's 3.5 for me, but I'm rounding it up to 4 because those standouts were class.

Definitely want to read more of Hailey Piper's work.
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