ARC Review: ONE HAND TO HOLD, ONE HAND TO CARVE by M. Shaw (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: April 1, 2022
Buy Links: Kindle Copy | Print Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the Publisher
Content warning: body horror, domestic psychological abuse, self-harm, abstract depictions of eating disorder

The debut novella from Tenebrous Press delivers on its promise of new weird body horror. In a morgue, a cadaver cloven in half wakes up as two distinct personalities: Left and Right. Where one tries to assimilate, the other descends into a madness that brings the tale back to the beginning.

A surreal journey of identity and trying to live in a society when one is missing half a body, a delightful inaugural introduction to a new horror press.

An interview with author M. Shaw will be posted on release date, April 1st.

The prose in this novella is dreamlike. Part fairy tale, part nightmare, it immerses the reader in fresh strangeness. The halves trying to understand the world around them is unsettlingly logical in its progression. This isn’t a critique, as much as it is a deep desire to see this story from the point of view from the seemingly normal people Left and Right interact with. There’s the motel clerk, the librarian, and countless others. It’s bewildering, but that’s the kind of ride you’re on.

Left and Right had very distinct voices and plot directions. There’s never a moment of confusion thanks to the deep interiority. I can’t say too much about the direction they go in, but they have very different philosophies when it comes to what it means to be alive. Also with regards to what it means to be a family. I found myself unsettled throughout, even during the moments when it seems like they’ve achieved normalcy.

In addition, Shaw puts a wonderfully grotesque attention to detail to the biology of our narrators. From them trying to pass themselves off as one person, to trying to maneuver with and without dexterity, and to how their forms change over time. It’s gross, and it’s really fun.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: ONE HAND TO HOLD, ONE HAND TO CARVE by M. Shaw (2022)

  1. Pingback: January 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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  3. Pingback: 2022 Bookish Hype Train | Jo Writes Fantasy

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