EYES GUTS THROAT BONES by Moïra Fowley (BOOK REVIEW)
Moïra Fowley is the author of three critically acclaimed YA novels, and a part-time witch. She is half-Irish, half-French, and lives in Dublin.
Moïra has a Masters in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin and wrote half a PhD on teenage vampires in young adult fiction before leaving academia when her first book sold and her first baby was born in the space of a few months. Since then, she has spent her time writing queer magic realism for young adults, raising two witch babies, and reading tarot.
What does the end of the world look like? We all think about this – we all have our own ideas. From the great floods that echo biblical stories to atomic bombs and zombie outbreaks, we all think ‘what would I do?’ and ‘what would it look like?’ In this lingering and uncanny collection, Fowley constructs some beautifully bizarre scenarios, feeding off our darkest impulses and desires, forcing us to confront the end of the world as we know it.
‘Its not too late, Melissa answered. Women have always had children at the end of the world’
I have to say, Fowley knows her audience. Yes, the cover is pretty. Floral and feminine, the perfect piece for that ‘bookstagram’ feel – but when I walked into Waterstones in Liverpool the last thing I expected was to see a giant poster:
‘HER FACE ITCHES, DEEP FRISSON AT HER HAIR-LINE, TINGLE OF BURN ALONG HER JAW. SHE HOOKS HER NAILS RIGHT IN, DIGS UP AND UNDER, SHUDDERING LIKE SHE’S COMING, BREATHS FAST AND HARD. SHE GIVES ONE OF THOSE BELLYGROANS, FINGERS, WORKING FASTER, DEEPER IN UNDER THE SKIN. HER WHOLE FACE PEELS OFF AND IT’S LIKE A BENEDICTON.’
Suffice it to say, I immediately purchased a copy of Eyes, Guts, Throat, Bones with absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
Fowley’s collection is difficult to define by genre, but I would categorise the stories under: Horror, Body Horror, Queer Fiction, Weird Fiction, Speculative Fiction, dystopia (and probably more). Lena Taylor (Waterstones) points out that Fowley’s collection starts with an ‘evocative banger,’ then begins introducing themes such as ‘not being listened to.’ Whilst the colloquial ‘banger’ might not seem appropriate – I insist that it is. Each story slaps, bangs, kills and fucks you in a slightly different way from a different angle. You become seduced but repulsed, amused but terrified and continuously satisfied, yet hungry for more.
‘There is always music playing and people talking, shouting, dancing, living, at all hours of the day and night. It used to be Adeline’s favourite thing about living there. The monster Doesn’t like it.’
Fowley introduces you to the monster in the mirror, the Demogorgon in your dreams and the witch that whispers in the wind. Sorry to warn you, but that the monster Fowley introduces you to, is you.
Each story handles a different perspective on the end of the world, with twists and turns that you might not expect. From the face steeling activities of one drifting girl, to a ‘haunted’ mound of Earth or flowers falling from the sky when two girls fall in love, Fowley does more than ask ‘what if?’ Fowley confronts issues concerning ideological constructs surrounding Gender, love, Morality and identity. She screams ‘fuck off’ at ideological expectations and deconstructs performative heteronormativity. With her wildly delicious stories, Fowley makes you question the world, but you might not like the answers.
‘Night time was the for noises they could never dare to make in the day’
One of my favourite stories, is called ‘The Summoning,’ in which ‘Somebody. Not Katie,’ summons an interdimensional demon from a hell world. By accident. And that demon just happens to be ‘Girl Shaped.’ ‘Kind of. Hot-girl shaped.’ Not Katie (but definitely Katie) accidently summons the demon, at her college. It seems Katie is not the most popular student and has suffered some adversity from her shallow classmates. The Hot Demon offers to help Katie, and it ends in an absolute bloodbath. Whilst you might think – wow that escalated quickly – yes, it does. However, it reminded me of times when one might fantasise about seeking revenge on those who have upset you and what that revenge might look like (not that I have imagined summoning a demon, but the sentiment remains the same).
‘Only corpses stay’
Another great story is the ‘interval’ of the collection, called ‘Sad Straight Sex at the End of The World,’ Which is EXACTLY as vanilla and mundane as the title might suggest – but it is outrageously brilliant.
Fowley has created a collection like nothing I have ever read. I half expected something akin to Lucie McKnight Hardy’s ‘Dead Relatives,’ and whilst if you enjoyed Hardy’s collection, I imagine you will enjoy Fowley’s, I do not feel they are cut from the same cloth. Fowley’s collection made me feel human, I haven’t decided it that is a good thing yet.
I strongly recommend you read Fowley’s work, let your Eyes glide over the words, let your Guts churn with unease, leave your Throat exposed and let your Bones weaken as she walks you home, hand in hand, ready to introduce you to the monster you keep yourself hidden from. Yourself.
Eyes Guts Throat Bones is available now from Orion Publishing, order your copy HERE