Review: Black Flowers

Review: Black Flowers

By Jesse Muchmore

Genre: Single author collection

Publisher: Dark Currents Press

Pages: 234

Publication Date: May 31, 2019

Genre: Horror, urban fantasy, science fiction, poetry, short stories

This is where I would normally put a plot synopsis for the book but, Jesse Muchmore’s anthology, Black Flowers, doesn’t share much between the pieces included in the collection. The entries include 6 poems, and 10 short stories in the genres of horror, science fiction, and magical realism. I won’t provide a full summary of all of the stories since they would give away the endings but I wanted to write a little bit about the stories that stood out the most to me. 

My favorite stories of the collection were “The Doorway in the Garden” and “Those Ancient Eyes”. Doorway in the garden is a modern fairytale as a little girl, Osyka who crosses through a gateway in her grandmother’s garden and embarks on a magical vision quest to find her missing big brother, Kodi. Story pulls inspiration from Choctaw and Ojibwe mythology and is whimsical and heartwarming. 

“Those Ancient eyes” is a Science fiction piece which is.. Strange and intriguing. As it follows a scientist on the verge of creating a new power source in some star system and planet that isn’t truly named. 

“Woman” follows Brennan as he mourns the sudden death of his wife, Leslie and discovers his own way to adjust to her passing. 

“Coda” is a more modern story that tackles the topical subject of racial profiling and the failure of a system to enable young African American men to lift out of impoverished circumstances. 

This collection was hit or miss for me. I found the oddity of “Pulp Mythology” as it transitioned to a noir feeling story to campy horror interesting but it didn’t really stick with me the way Osyka’s journey or Brennan’s grieving process did. Coda was more memorable than the similar themed “The Evil Among Us”. Many of the shorts felt like stories interrupted that could have been fleshed out into longer pieces. Black Flowers is a type of book to pick up when you aren’t sure what genre you want to read since it provides a variety of genres to work from. 

3 of 5 Stars