Book Review: "Salt Slow" by Julia Armfield
5/5 - Dark and twisted, it shows us our souls...
I originally heard of this book when it was featured on the Belletrist Book Club and if I am going to be honest, because I had so much on my TBR at the time, I did not give it a read. Instead, I waited until now for some reason when I really should have read it before. Why? because it is brilliantly written, dark and twisted with a key element of psychological horror which kind of makes you uncomfortable in the best of ways. Only a few times have I ever found a novel or a set of short stories has made me truly uncomfortable and this one is definitely within that realm.
A masterpiece of the female body horror, this short story collection packs a punch with its realist language features that include: extended metaphors, limited use of adverbs, realistic situations, feelings of overwhelming insecurity and finally (and the best) the way in which speech and writing merges together in this beautiful attempt to reason with the reader - even though the topic at hand will be most uncomfortable for them.
I have to say that my favourite story in the whole book was probably "Mantis" because I could relate to it (somewhat!). I found that the story centred around a girl who had been raised ina. strict household and did not enjoy anything about it. Be that as it may, I quite enjoyed being raised in a strict household - I was the kid who wanted to see how much they could get away with. However, as the story in the book continues, we see that there are strange and man insecurities about the girl. The way in which the language changes through the story in intrinsically clever and witty, it is brilliant because, at first you have no idea what the story is about and then, when looking at the title it becomes clear by the end half.
The wicked uncomfortable nature of this story is locked between animalistic impulses and human emotion and that is what makes this story and the others so great. The exploration of the female ability to also have animalistic impulses instead of just being an emotional being according to most, is something I admire about this author dearly. The ability to not only put it into words but to use it as an extended metaphor to see how physically and psychologically terrifying it can be is something that requires great skill.
From everything that includes body horror to psychological horror all the way to the thriller genre, the way in which different women from different backgrounds in different times are investigated seems to be not only a great skill of the author but something that is also one of her most crafted subjects in passion and love. I am looking forward to everything Julia Armfield has to offer and I hope that in the future, she writes about the woman’s place in art in Victorian England so I can too learn what she has studied on her fascinating degree courses.
This book is what happens when the true extent of body horror meets the true extent of fever dream psychological literature. This book, in my opinion, is set to be a modern classic of the short story anthology and is set to be another one of the books that we study and return to so often that even though our stomachs are turning at the twists and physicality, our minds cannot leave it alone. Like a spell, or a curse, this book will stay with me forever, haunting me about the true nature within myself. It is a brilliantly wicked book with its witty darkness and its brilliance of language.