Cover Image: The Smallest of Bones

The Smallest of Bones

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Member Reviews

I was really intrigued by the theme of this book and excited to read it, but my expectations were not matched . I liked the in-between short descriptions, some parts of the poems were beautifully written, too. The topics it tries to cover could be really interesting (ghosts, sexuality, love — among others) but the writing style of the poems and the actual poems didn’t really win me over. They appear to be, at least in my opinion, very simple and cheap. This whole thing reminds me of Rupi Kaur poetry which I also disliked.
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This collection of poetry covered a wide range of topics including love, romance, sexuality, religion, relationships, death, ghosts, darkness, and gender. The poems are arranged in the structure of a human skeleton, beginning from the cranium and moving down the body. The author includes some scientific and historical facts about the bones and their own creative take on each. 

The poems are spare, with the intention of being minimalist and raw. I have to say respectfully, that I didn't "get" this book and its poems. I tried, but I just couldn't get into it. I typically love raw, haunting poetry, but this just didn't do it for me. I was drawn to this book from the stunning artwork on the cover and the description, but unfortunately this book didn't work for me. It may speak to other readers though. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title and provide an honest review.
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The lovely thing about poetry is the way you can get more and more out of it as you reread. I am looking forward to reading this one over and over. She captures the raw and occasionally ugliness of our feelings in a way that makes you feel less guilty for them and more understood. On top of being moved by the poems, the introductions at the beginning of each section talked about the specific bones and taught me new things that I never knew about my own skeleton. Overall it's a super interesting, insightful, and beautiful read.
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Beautiful, micro-poetry collection that focuses on love, relationships, darkness, queer sexuality, and bones among other tender topics. Walrath was able to say poignant things in few words, which is something I tend to be a fan of. 5 stars from me.
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I’ll start by saying that while this isn’t my favourite style of poetry, I was surprised to find myself returning again and again to some of these miniscule poems.

The Smallest of Bones is filled with ideas on gender, sex, sexuality, and feminism. Each brought into brief existence through scant, unpunctuated lines. Most are affecting but others feel better suited for inspirational Facebook posts. They’re not bad but the brevity and structure can too easily distract from the intended meaning.   

On the other hand, the consistency of theme is to be admired. Walrath begins each section to a rundown on a particular human bone and then expands on it with condensed emotion and minute anatomical imagery. We travel down from the cranium to the mandible and then the sternum all the way down and back around to the spine before stopping at the temporal bones at the ears. It’s as much a tour of heartbreak and existence as it is an anatomy textbook. 

I don’t know that I would classify much of it as horror but there’s definitely a macabre feeling throughout the book. It’s a quick read but one that, when it connects, will have you flipping back to your favourites.
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"there's everything and then there's poetry
Poem, you caught me up in your hands 
and said if you keep moaning like that
I'm going to lose it"

Thank you to NetGalley and CLASH Books for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Smallest of Bones is a surprising collection of small poems, small like the bones in the title. I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of super short poems, I often find them lazy and devoid of much substance. However, I did find some poems here that packed a punch. The prose sections describing the different bones were my favorite, they are fantastic!!

There's room for improvement but all in all The Smallest of Bones is a good poetry collection with a very original premise.
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The Smallest of Bones- Raw, honest, and powerful
Thank you NetGalley & Clash books for the chance to dive into this ARC, in exchange for an honest review. This was a quick read yet still remains imprinted on my memory. I didn't realize I would be getting a bonus lesson on human anatomy whilst enjoying this collection of "weird poetry," that isn't broken down by topic but by bone. I loved how different this collection was & what can I say, I'm a sucker for a pretty cover, aren't we all?
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I was excited to read this poetry collection from the beginning. The title is alluring and the cover art is just stunning. Both made me want to pick up this book and try it immediately. 

I really enjoyed how this collection is separated into sections titled by different bones in the body with a brief explanation about the bone along with some words from the author. I think the sections worked well individually and together as a whole. 

The poems had a variety of form and length which I immensely enjoyed as well. The author is very creative with forming the poems and with the words she uses. You can also feel a sense of old wounds and healing emanating from the page, which is a very hard skill to achieve in writing, especially with poetry. I felt like I could personally relate to many of the poems because of this.

However, I'm only rating this collection 3 stars because there was not a good sense of imagery from these poems, and they felt rather basic and incomplete most of the time for me. I though many of the ideas and words were really creative, but they felt sometimes thrown together to create a poem. I'd love to see more from these poems.

Overall, I enjoyed reading it and I'd recommend it if you are interested. It's a quick and simple read.
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You know what would have made this e-ARC better???

A BLACK BACKGROUND. Please consider this with future e-ARCs.

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "The Smallest of Bones" by Holly Lyn Walrath is a rather short and simple poetry collection. While I really enjoy simplistic and raw poems, these ones were rather plain and lacked emotion. I could neither relate to, nor connect with the content of this poetry collection. I appreciate the innovative approach, but in all truth the execution disappointed me. There were a few poems, which started rather strongly, but at the end the emotion faded away. On the other hand, it is a pretty quick read and it covers a large amount of topics such as: love, sexuality, death, gender, darkness, relationships, etc. Trigger warnings include death, pain, grief, heartbreak, sexism, etc.
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I've read a lot of poetry and I've read a lot of horror, but very rarely do I find horror poetry. When I saw this collection up on NetGalley I knew I had to give it a go, and ended up loving it so much! I wasn't sure what to expect, but now I desperately want to read more by this author, and get my hands on more horror poetry immediately.

This collection is small but mighty. It's divided up into seven sections, all named after different bones. It covers themes of grief and loneliness, gender and queerness, love, and death. There's also ghosts and demons, both in a paranormal sense, as well as in the form of haunting memories.

I absolutely loved the ways that creepy, macabre elements were weaved in with human feelings. For me, it made it easier to picture the emotions, and clearly see the terror and uncertainty being described. The writing was lush and beautiful, while also being succinct yet powerful. Many lines left a heavy feeling in my heart, and I took quiet a few breaks while reading (especially considering the book is only 90 pages).

THE SMALLEST OF BONES was a totally unique, emotional reading experience for me, and I absolutely loved it. It was a new kind of poetry for me—one that filled my spooky heart, and showed me new ways to express emotions and feelings through a horror lens.
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Thank you for Netgalley and the Publisher for giving me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This collection of poems and thoughts were very deep and sometimes even a bit disturbing. I really loved how the writer used analogues and how our anatomical body was destructured to bare the soul within.
This book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but the right audience will find it intriguing.

The cover is really beautiful and will surely attract people.
3.5 stars
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The poetry book is split into 7 sections, based on body parts; Cranium, Mandible, Sternum, Sacrum, Spine, Calcaneus and Temporal. 
There are feminist themes throughout and to me there were topics such as death, grief and abuse covered. It was empowering and special and I found myself tabbing the poems throughout. I really enjoyed this short and memorable collection of poems!
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The Smallest Bones is a brief poetry collection about the many forms that emotional turmoil takes in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship that then turns the trauma in on the abused. I'm not sure that it's for everyone, it is a stream of consciousness experience and doesn't explain itself outside of the narrative, but I appreciated it's simple style and the expression of these themes as a person who lived through abuse myself.
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3 stars     
This short poetry collection has a unique premise. The language is beautiful, and there are some striking lines about love & its many ensuing emotions, yet overall I had a hard time connecting to these poems due to the long strings of metaphors that felt disjointed or irrelevant to the themes.
[What I liked:]

•This collection has a neat premise: each poem is inspired by the description of a human bone (cranium, mandible, etc.). The poet mentions in the afterword that the factual descriptions of the bones that serve as intros to the poems are largely taken (& paraphrased) from antique medical textbooks.
•Each of the seven poems has at least one passage that resonated with me, a deep emotion or memory clearly expressed with compelling language.

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•The theme of these poems is a fraught (possibly toxic/abusive) romantic relationship, the longing for love lost, & dealing with the resulting pain & damage. The poems aren’t exactly repetitive, like each one has something meaningful to say, & neither is the language repetitious. But at the same time, none of the poems seem distinct from the others—I couldn’t tell you which poem the bits that stuck with me are from; they all blur together in that sense.

•All of these poems were a bit difficult for me to grasp onto, to fully connect with. The intros (describing a human bone, & giving some interesting facts about it) don’t seem all that much related to the free form verses that follow. The poems are strings of fragmented images (lovely, beautifully worded images!) that seem randomly thrown together. At some point, usually towards the end, a meaningful statement about love or life or pain would give me something memorable to engage with. But tbh, 80% of the lines/stanzas were disjointed descriptions that I couldn’t relate to each other or make sense of in the greater context. They just sounded really nice. This is probably a matter of stylistic choices that just aren’t to my tastes, your mileage may vary.

CW: self harm, allusions to domestic violence/potential sexual abuse, unhealthy romantic relationships 

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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absolutely adore the cover! I enjoyed this poetry book, the imagery & metaphors. I think most of us can relate to the themes of self hate etc. I only wish it was longer, i feel like i didn’t get enough out of it! Can’t wait to read more of this authors work ❤️
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How often you think about your cranium? mandible? sternum? sacrum? spine? calcaneus? temporal?

Admittedly, I, a lover of poetry and not as devout a student of anatomy, until recently could only have definitively pointed out the locations of four of these. “Temporal,” I’d have said, was probably somewhere in the head (yes), “sacrum” was a distant memory from yoga class, and “calcaneus,” never mind. But here, in "The Smallest of Bones," Holly Lyn Walrath makes of anatomy a poem. Here I am, finally excuseless, learning my anatomy.

Sexed and gendered, the skeleton is. Examination of the skull yields up “sex, but not gender.” On the other hand, the mandible may be fractured “in cases of domestic violence”—a gendered issue, right? An important question, the way sex and gender are bound up in each other, in ways ranging from invisible to tenuous to obvious, right down to our bones.

Of the cranium, Walrath tells us that “the demon’s tongue is rough like a cat’s,” and she bursts someone else’s secret: “I wanted to eat your dreams when I die, you say”.

Until recently, it would have been hard for me even to guess at the identity of the “calcaneus," except that I have recently grown bone spurs on my heels. I am thankful for Walrath’s bibulous ghost prayers written in honor of this sneaky body part: “my body is two-thirds whiskey / and one-third / ghosts”. This is, indeed, to quote another of Walrath’s “calcaneus” lines, how I currently feel about this bone I never previously contemplated and took for granted until it began to hurt: “god I love the things I hate”.
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This modern poetry collection was unique. I loved the way it centred around different bones and gave a page of information on them that also began to explore past misogyny towards the differences in female bodies. The poems were visceral, but often non-sensical or strenuous. It’s possible this was done by Walrath on purpose, however, I sometimes found the poems difficult to make sense of or draw further meaning from. I loved a couple of these poems and the overall connections with anatomy, but it’s probably not a collection I will read again.
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Overall, The Smallest of Bones is a strong collection of poetry. While not the gruesome body horror that the title might imply, it is a book both intimate and perturbing. It’s the kind of horror that lingers within the reader long after the covers have closed, and there are lines that readers will keep returning to again and again. Walrath has already proven herself to be an incredible speculative poet with her award-winning Glimmerglass Girl, and The Smallest of Bones only keeps that streak going. This is certainly a book that any horror reader and poetry reader should pursue.
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This book trapped me right from the first. I loved the conceit, vignettes about different bones of the body framing the beautiful poems. I did so much underlining!
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