Book Reviews

{Book Review} Choking Back The Devil by Donna Lynch

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  • Paperback: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
  • Published: July 17, 2019

Horror poetry has quickly grown on me. I love reading the latest poetry collections and poems. There are so many great poets and collections out there. Choking Back The Devil is one of the best collections I’ve ever read. This may be my first time reading Donna Lynch, but it won’t be my last. Oh no. I plan on reading all of her work in the near future. But for now, let’s get to this review. Choking back the devil is a genuine boffo. From start to finish, Choking Back The Devil sings like an angelic demon bird on an Indian summer day. I thought the poems were organized well. I like how the poems were organized by length, as well as rhythm, which makes the brisk collection read even faster. Even though this collection comes in at 98 pages, it carries the weight of a novel. Mental health and abuse are just a few topics Donna Lynch touches on. 

Donna Lynch can tell a story in 4 sentences, while most authors try in 400 pages. The hair-raising poems will give you chill bumps. A shiver will run down your spine as you read through this collection. Donna Lynch doesn’t waste a single word, every one of them are hammered in like a stake to your heart. Choking Back The Devil will have you ruminating on each poem. You may want to take your time with the poems because they carry a lot of weight, and the content is emotionally heavy. With each line, Donna Lynch tightens her grip on your heart, leaving you breathless by the time you finish the poem. She then punches you in the gut, while pulling the rug out from under your feet. And right before you hit the ground, Donna Lynch pulls you to your feet, then choke slams you to the pavement. Gasping for air, she then drags you across asphalt. You pick yourself up and read the next poem. It’s what you do. The poems are emotional, to say the least. 

There are several poems that I thoroughly enjoyed in this collection. But for me, I think Donna Lynch did a bang-up job with Legend. It just spoke to me, you know? I love urban legends and things that go bump in the night. Legend is the type of poem you read in a dark forest during the witching hour. That darkness swallows you whole and you live there comfortably because you realize you are the darkness. You’ve always been the darkness. You are what people fear most. You are what goes bump in the night. There are other poems like Wreckage, Guest, Treat, and Succubi that I really enjoyed, too. This collection is like an assorted bag of all your favorite candies. It’s hard to choose favorites. Overall, Choking Back The Devil is one of my all time favorite poetry collections. I look for this collection to be nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. You better tear through this one before it tears through you. Dig it!

 

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Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves–our secrets–are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.

It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes–if we’ve damned ourselves enough–we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.

So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.

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