ARC Review: ALL THE HOMETOWNS YOU CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM by Izzy Wasserstein (2022)

Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction Short Story Collection
Year Release: July 26th, 2022
Buy Links: Neon Hemlock | Unabridged Books | Bookshop.org

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher

This collection is full of queer stories that cross streams between science fiction, fantasy, and horror, sometimes crossing over, but never being shy about it. There are multiverses, quests, terrifying boarding schools, haunted museums that need to be emptied, people resisting, people trying their best, and more. I inhaled these in rapid succession. You will find intricate worldbuilding and complex characterizations within these pages, and I’m excited to share my faves.

An interview with author Izzy Wasserstein will be going up on July 26th, 2022.

Overall, this collection is impressive. I am floored by the intricacy of these stories. They deliver the full plots and backstories of entire novels in a small space of several thousand words. The characters aren’t always loveable, but they are complex. They’re people who are trying, and the stories portray the best efforts, regardless the outcome. There is tenderness, but there is also resilience. The author’s notes at the end also provide wonderful context for both the structure of each story and Wasserstein’s process in the writing craft.

The range and variety Wasserstein brings to the table is truly a sight to behold. Here are the stories that I enjoyed the most, but there is something for everyone across the broad spectrum of SFFH:

  • “All the Hometown You Can’t Stay Away From”
    • A kind of multiverse story in which the narrator comes home multiple times to different outcomes
    • Similar through lines and characterization despite characters appearing or disappearing
    • Bittersweet
  • “Unplaces: An Atlas of Non-Existence”
    • A story told in the literal margins from an artifact in a Museum of Fascism
    • Anti-fascist with incredibly lived-in world
    • Tragic, hopeful, a roller coaster
  • “The Good Mothers’ Home for Wayward Girls”
    • About a reform school there’s a new girl
    • Things are not okay, and this continues to be among my favorite horror subgenres
    • Horrifying and intriguing
  • “Dead at the Feet of a God”
    • A high fantasy about assassinating a god told in a fractured, nonlinear timeline
    • Angsty with intricate worldbuilding for such a tight space
    • CW: corpses, execution
  • “Hopper in the Frying Pan”
    • A cyberpunk near-fear where you’re in danger of becoming who you pretend to be
    • Interesting use of social media as plot progression and hacking, so much hacking
    • CW: police brutality
  • “Blades, Stone, and the Weight of Centuries”
    • The words, “gladiomancer” and “pestimancer”
    • High fantasy with dynamic sword fights and sword lesbians kissing
    • Reckons with destiny and the desire for destiny
  • “The Grass Bows Down, The Pilgrims Walk Lightly”
    • A blend of science fiction space exploration and worship of Norse gods (specifically Odin)
    • Build, rebuild, explore, repeat
    • Seeking something better after ecological collapse, and not stopping until it is found
  • “Shadows of the Hungry, the Broken, the Transformed”
    • Sentient shadows in a police state backdrop and an MC pursuing a PhD
    • Weaving as craft and magic
    • Magic as a manifestation of loss and reflection

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: ALL THE HOMETOWNS YOU CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM by Izzy Wasserstein (2022)

  1. Pingback: Author to Author with Izzy Wasserstein (All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From) | Jo Writes Fantasy

  2. Pingback: July 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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