Kitty Cat: One Hundred Word Horrors by Samira Daukoru
Kitty Cat: One Hundred Word Horrors is a flash fiction collection composed of twenty-five stand-alone pieces, each set in its own little universe where common features of everyday life are terribly, delightfully distorted. In as short of a space as any, the collection pays homage to an array of horror subgenres, with a special focus on paranormal, supernatural, and surrealist themes.
This latest collection from Samira Daukoru marks her fourth book, and first collecting works of horror flash fiction, with twenty-five stories each clocking in at 100 words.
Although flash fiction, or drabbles, aren’t something I’ve read widely up to this point, I have become something of a fan recently. I enjoy how carefully crafted they are, how every single word is carefully thought out and placed for a specific purpose. When you only have one hundred words to set the scene, introduce the characters and tell your story, there is zero room for waste and I’m in awe of a story of this length that works, because it is such a hard thing to do at all, never mind do well.
I’m happy to report that Daukoru writes them exceptionally well, and when she describes them as ‘One Hundred Word Horrors’, that is no hyperbole. Don’t let the covers soft colors and gentle imagery fool you, this book is all-out horror. We get buckets of blood, broken bones and body horror, all of which can be read in a minute or two before moving onto whatever terrors the author has in store on the next page.
There is a varied mix of classic horror and more surreal, or abstract stories. Some stories can be read and enjoyed before moving onto the next, telling a straightforward but expertly crafted story, whereas some need to be read carefully, then re-read, to get at the meaning behind them, requiring a little more thought. I very much enjoyed the fact that some stories were just fun, nasty little bite-sized pieces of easily digestible horror while others worked more effectively if you put the book down and let the story sit in your head for a while.
My favorites of the collection are probably the ones that leaned more toward the unsettling imagery. The opening story (“Kitty Cat”) is a good example, whereby a young woman browsing the internet for cat videos finds something altogether more disturbing. “Collision” is another memorable short, beautifully written and featuring an alien invasion that is oddly poetic in the telling. “Holy War” is disturbing precisely because its imagery is so bizarre and “Snow” goes from upbeat exuberance to crushing terror in just a few sentences.
My favorite story, however, is more blackly comedic. “Laugh Track” does exactly what it says on the tin, and presents a tale of a man whose life suddenly gains a sitcom style canned laughter for his every action. Other darkly funny stories also stood out for me, including “Birthing” which is disgusting but with an amusing twist in the tale, or “Onboarding”, which goes the opposite way, saving its hilariously grotesque image until the big reveal in the closing sentence.
Kitty Cat packs a big punch for such a small book and its light title and gentle cover hides a host of horrors that switch effortlessly between fun, frightening, weird and downright disturbing. Highly recommended for horror fans who like their fiction brief but brutal.
Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.
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