Breakable Things

Cassandra Khaw's dynamic and vibrant debut collection, Breakable Things, explores the fragile and nebulous bonds that weave love and grief into our existence. This exquisite and cutting collection of stories showcases a bloody fusion of horrors from cosmic to psychological to body traumas.

TITLE: Breakable Things
AUTHOR: Cassandra Khaw
PUBLISHER: Undertow Publications
YEAR: 2022
LENGTH: 250 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Horror

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Minor Character(s).

BREAKABLE THINGS is a poignant and visceral collection of stories which end poised on the cusp of something fantastic or terrible, as raw as new grief, haunting like ghosts. 

Each story is set in its own world, built from nothing in a few pages and immediately compelling. The main characters rarely have names, their essences are distinct and wonderous without the need for tiny labels. Their stories spill forth as their insides are offered up, with literal and metaphorical viscera pouring out, flayed flesh as common as emotions laid bare.

"Don’t Turn on The Lights" is a strong start to the collection, with an inexorable slide from a bloody and spooky story into something stranger and more horrifying than simple, gory, murder in the dark. My favorite two are "A Leash of Foxes, Their Stories Like Barter" and "Monologue of an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end", but I like every story in the collection. "In the Rustle of Pages" will stay with me for a while, I think.

Graphic/Explicit CW for grief, blood, gore, death.

Moderate CW for cursing, emotional abuse, toxic relationship, confinement, sexual harassment, kidnapping, pregnancy, miscarriage, alcoholism, violence, body horror, injury detail, terminal illness torture, cannibalism, suicide, murder, child death, parental death.

Minor CW for sexual content, sexism, misogyny, toxic friendship, gaslighting, infidelity, fire/fire injury, alcohol, drug use, physical abuse, child abuse, excrement, cancer, war, self harm, animal cruelty, animal death.

CWs by story:

"Don’t Turn on The Lights" - Moderate CW for blood, gore, body horror, murder, death. Minor CW for toxic friendship, excrement, suicide.

"A Leash of Foxes, Their Stories Like Barter" - Minor CW for alcohol, blood, gore, cannibalism, murder, death.

"Radio Werewolf" - Minor CW for war, death.

"Recite Her the Names of Pain" - Moderate CW for cursing. Minor CW for drug use, alcohol, blood, toxic relationship.

"Kiss, Don’t Tell" - Minor CW for sexual content, blood, gore, death.

"An Ocean of Eyes" - Moderate CW for sexual harassment, blood, gore, body horror, death. Minor CW for animal cruelty, animal death.

"The Truth That Lies Under Skin and Meat" - Moderate CW for blood, gore, murder, child death, death. Minor CW for sexual content, alcohol.

"Mothers, We Dream" - Moderate CW for alcoholism, blood, violence, injury detail, torture. Minor CW for alcohol, death.

"How Selkies are Made" - Moderate CW for grief, emotional abuse, toxic relationship, murder, parental death. Minor CW for infidelity, gore.

"A Secret of Devils" - Minor CW for grief.

"Goddess, Worm" - Moderate CW for blood, gore, injury detail, body horror, torture. Minor CW for violence, death.

"A Priest of Vast and Distant Places" - Moderate CW for grief. Minor CW for death.

"The Games We Play" - Moderate CW for grief, kidnapping, death. Minor CW for fire, blood, violence, child death.

"For the Things We Never Said" - Minor CW for grief, blood, gore, parental death, death.

"She Who Hungers, She Who Waits" - Moderate CW for gore, blood, pregnancy, murder, death. Minor CW for sexual content, cursing, sexism, misogyny, alcohol, excrement.

"Monologue of an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end" - Minor CW for grief, death.

"You Do Nothing but Freefall" - Minor CW for cursing, excrement, blood, death.

"The Ghost Stories We Tell Around Photon Fires" - Moderate CW for grief, blood, murder, suicide, death. Minor CW for fire/fire injury, terminal illness, cancer.

"The Quiet Like a Homecoming" - Minor CW for cursing, toxic relationship, gaslighting, blood, self harm.

"And in Our Daughters, We Find a Voice" - Graphic CW for blood, gore, death. Moderate CW for toxic relationship, confinement, pregnancy, miscarriage, violence, cannibalism.

"In the Rustle of Pages" - Moderate CW for grief, body horror, terminal illness, death.

"Bargains by the Slant-Light" - Moderate CW for gore. Minor CW for toxic relationship.

"Some Breakable Things" - Graphic CW for grief. Moderate CW for gore, parental death. Minor CW for physical abuse, emotional abuse, child abuse, suicide.

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