My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Short story collections are a mixed bag, both within themselves and across the whole genre. They often have a very "mixtape" feel to them, taking on varied tones, genres, and themes. Sometimes this can have a jarring effect if the sequence isn't carefully chosen or a disjointed feel when one or two stories feel drastically different from the rest. Thankfully, Kristen Duvall's collection Femmes Du Chaos does not suffer too much from it.
A wicked and twisted series of tales, some of which are endowed with a grim sense of humor, Femmes Du Chaos starts on the outrageous side and keeps charging forward. Some of the stories are unrelentingly grim ("The Fallout," "The Chosen One," "Irreversible") and can be hard to take but are intense and vividly-written. Others are real classics. My favorites were "Like Father, Like Daughter," "Magic Shoes," and the closer for the collection, a dystopian horror story titled "The Price You Pay." Some of these felt like ideas that could've become entire novels but the author delivered them as fully-realized and carefully constructed stories that left me wanting more. It's not often that short stories feature such interesting, yet economical world-building.
I will definitely need to check out more by Duvall, as Femmes Du Chaos feels like a taste of what she could do with more pages. Given it's grisly content and often despair-filled moments, it may not be to everyone's taste, but I certainly enjoyed it.
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