If you’re looking for horror with heart, Cynthia Pelayo’s work will not disappoint. I feel confident in that statement even though I’ve only read two of her books so far. The first was her collection, Poems of My Night, and the most recent—Snow White’s Shattered Coffin.
When an author creates quality short fiction and/or poetry, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I will enjoy their longer fiction. After this most recent read, I’m absolutely looking forward to reading Pelayo’s novels. Snow White’s Shattered Coffin is a chapbook, and therefore a short tale, but it’s packed full of substance.
The author has a talent for creating memorable characters and balancing their development with equally solid pacing and plot. I found this story to be equal parts heartbreaking and haunting. I was not surprised to find the prose infused with a poetic quality, and certain lines brought tears to my eyes.
About that—yes, I cry easily, but it still takes a special story to move me to that place. I could go through my shelves and point out every book that has made me cry. There are a lot, but fewer than you’d think. I never forget a story with heart, and I especially love a connection with the characters. Those type of stories share many traits, and authenticity is at the top of the list. You can tell when an author writes from the heart, and Cynthia Pelayo is a great example. In this particular story, her love of family, heritage, and her hometown shine through. She writes what she knows, and does it well. Her stories speak to the human experience and the ties that bind us, no matter our background. I think I mentioned something similar to this in my review for Poems of My Night, but it’s worth stating again.
I also want to note the beautiful artwork accompanying this story. The illustrations are from Chicago-based artist Vheto Gutierrez Vazquez. What Pelayo brings to life through her words, Vazquez enhances with his drawings. It’s a wonderful combination that makes for effective storytelling.
I look forward to reading more of Cynthia Pelayo’s work. There are several published titles on my list, and future projects to anticipate. Readers should add her stories to their shelf if they haven’t already, and be prepared to see her name on book covers for many years to come.
Publication Date: March 24, 2021
Publisher: It Came from Beyond Pulp