Review: THE DANGERS OF SMOKING IN BED: Stories by Mariana Enríquez (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror Story Collection
Year Release: 2021
Buy Link:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
General content warnings: Blood, body horror, missing children, murdered women

In preparation for reading an ARC of Our Share of Night, I decided to delve into my backlist and read this collection from the author. I was not disappointed. This collection has a variety of terror, mostly in the form of hauntings and the way it affects the narrators who have to live in the places. But the problems presented are deeply human and unsettling in their rawness. I’ll mention my favorite stories in this brief review.

What really worked for me in this collection is the sense of urban legend. There are things that are not of this world, but also things that are only as real as the listeners believe them to be. The dread crumbs that Enríquez lays out work so well, given the contemporariness of the settings and the familiarity she imbues with her set-ups.

Here are my favorites:

  • “Angelita Unearthed”
    • A story about a ghost baby that latches itself onto the narrator as its host
    • Really creepy and steeped in generational superstition in a way that’s thoroughly unsettling
    • TW: dead babies, body horror, decomposition, gore
  • “Our Lady of the Quarry”
    • A gaggle of teenage girls want to seduce a boy, but he’s infatuated with their worldly best friend
    • Open-ended ending that can honestly go in whichever way you want in terms of how much you believe in the Lady of the Quarry
    • CW: references to sexual content and drug use
  • “Rambla Triste”
    • Barcelona is gentrifying and the abandoned children who haunt its streets are trying to trap visitors as well
    • Comes off as late-night bar chats with a disturbing history that almost seems plausible and an excellent use of scent as the mechanism for detecting something is wrong
    • TW: hauntings, dead children, mention of a dead dog, mentions of pedophilia, mental illness
  • “Where Are You, Dear Heart?”
    • A young woman develops a fetish for beating hearts, especially those of the ill and dying
    • Unsettling yet effective in its eroticism
    • TW: fetish, sexualization of terminal illness, so much masturbation
  • “Kids Who Come Back”
    • Told from the point of view of a social services worker invested in the series
    • I really liked the central relationship between Mechi and Pedro, and the ways that they react to the children coming back
    • It has my favorite trope of “person kidnapped by fae or otherwise returns as something else”
    • TW: multiple uses of trans slurs, missing children, sex work, rape

One thought on “Review: THE DANGERS OF SMOKING IN BED: Stories by Mariana Enríquez (2021)

  1. Pingback: January 2023 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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