by Michael Harris Cohen, Sessha Batto, Robb Grindstaff , Brent Meske, Sally Basmajian, Robert Pope, Keira Michelle Telford, Jordanne Fuller, Deanne Charlton, Bey Deckard, Vasil Tuchkov, Laxmi Hariharan, Samantha Warren, Rebecca Poole, Daniel Arthur Smith , S.M. Johnson, Kim Wells, Christopher Godsoe, Bob Williams, P.K. Tyler, Philip Harris
Step right up to the modern freakshow — We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won't be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.
UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.
We is We by Michael Harris Cohen: "We is we" follows a day in Mary and Millie's life, traveling sideshow freaks who've lost touch with the outside world.
All The Devils by Keira Michelle Telford: It's 1889, and women are being killed in the East End of London. They've become the targets of a deranged sexual killer, but why? Because they're prostitutes? Sapphists? Or something else entirely?
Skin by Brent Meske: After constant bullying in high school, Patricia vows to change her name and her entire being. When she gains the ability to mold and sculpt flesh, that vow very quickly becomes a terrifying reality.
Mermaids by Robert Pope: Recently graduated from college, with no work prospects, Aqua-boy—so called because of the webbing between his toes—watches and listens to a group of musicians at a bar/restaurant when he notices the woman playing a diminutive red accordion has six fingers.
Phantom Pain by Philip Harris: Phantom Pain follows amputee, Mariana Jacobs, as she visits a man who claims to have information she needs. But that information comes at a cost.
Unbreakable Heart by Rebecca Poole: A cyborg must escape her creators in order to survive.
Saltwater Assassin by Samantha Warren: Syren has spent her life as a sideshow freak, caged in a tank of saltwater and gawked at by hundreds of normal humans. She has a secret, though. At night, when the lights are finally off and the fair goers leave, she turns into a human–a mermaid assassin.
In Her Image by Vasil Tuchkov: An English PHD student arrives at the scenic but haunting countryside of Matera, Italy, looking for answers. His translator introduces him to a crippled local painter who claims to have depicted the impossible. As the three men converse near the ancient settlement's caverns, a mystery unravels.
Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells: When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.
Don't Touch Me by Bey Deckard: Fighting is what Beau does best, because the very thing he dreads is exactly what lends him the extraordinary strength to defeat even the worst odds. And he does it all with the help of his angel, the woman he longs desperately to hold...but can't.
Three Poems by Deanne Charlton: Brenga's Body, Eternity in a One-night Stand, It Runs in the Family
Ruby by Bob Williams: It's nineteen thirty-six and the town of Ransom, Oklahoma is barely functioning after the "Dust Bowl" storm of the year before. Michael Wootten sits upon the porch of his dilapidated house and watches a caravan of trucks pull into town. Melvin Mitchell Presents: Ruby and her Amazing FreakShow Friends. Maybe this is just the thing to pump a little spirit into the near-dead town. But everything comes at a price, and Ms. Ruby always takes her cut.
UnTamed by Laxmi Hariharan: Wolf girl Leana Iyeroy, the first hybrid in her family, only ever wanted to be 100% human. An unexpected encounter with the Hugging Saint of Bombay forces Leana to face the wolf inside her. Will she finally make peace with herself?
Made for This by Sessha Batto: On the heels of unimaginable loss comes reinvention. Sometimes the gain is worth going through hell.
From the Inside by Daniel Arthur Smith: Strange, wondrous things happen when weeks of rain, fever visions, and anxiety, compel a young traveler to journey across Central Europe in pursuit of a uniquely talented artist.
Rudy and Deidre by Robb Grindstaff: A shorter than average man admires a taller than average woman from afar.
Daedalus' Daughter by P.K. Tyler: After her father's death, Isha begins sprouting feathers.
The Zealot by Christopher Godsoe: Six months ago, Tobin Maldovan was in charge of a manhunt for an enigmatic hacker named ATLAS. He lost his man near the Canadian border after a high speed chase, but not before ATLAS pulled strings to transfer the woman Tobin loves across the country, hampering any chance at reconciliation. With ATLAS having escaped his jurisdiction, Tobin had nothing left but to follow his wife to California, seeking reassignment at the West Coast cyberterrorism field office. His reputation precedes him, and he has drawn the case pursuing a man the media has taken to calling "The Zealot." As usual, Tobin pours himself into his work, but the work becomes personal in ways that he never would have imagined.
The Well-Rounded Head by Sally Basmajian: A woman is smitten with her husband's big, entirely round head. One day she notices that his temples appear to be slightly indented, so that his head is no longer a perfect sphere. This revolts her, and she moves into their guest room in order to avoid him. When he breaks in, she kills him, in a most bizarre way.
Reserved by SM Johnson: It's been five years since the accident that killed Pete Spencer's younger lover and left him grieving, bitter, and broken. He's tired of his lonely world, but the kind of young men he's attracted to dismiss him the moment their eyes land on his cane. Pete's learned to hide behind the safety of his reserve, but he's never met anyone like Rory.
Scars: First Session by Jordanne Fuller: It takes years to beat a strong woman into submission. It has to start somewhere. After a life of abuse, Abigail made the decision to cover her scars with tattoos. What she didn't expect was to confront her emotional scars in the process.
This anthology is definitely hair raising, definitely somber, and definitely distasteful, but it's also hopeful and optimistic. I didn't know what to expect when I started the first story so I went in with an open mind. There is so much going on with each story and I was drawn in by the peculiar characters, but compelled to continue reading because of the distinctive stories that were weaved.
They are each very different but somehow so similar. They are dealing with not being what is considered 'normal'. I felt myself empathizing with some of the characters because they felt they were pushed into doing something in order to get out of their current situation or just didn't feel like they had another option like Mary, Patricia, and Jenny. Some of them are realizing that they are more than the body they have despised all these years like Syren and Leana. Some of the stories were very short, some were gruesome, and some were heart wrenching, but each and every one of them had incredible impact.
A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.