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Redhead and the Slaughter King

120 Pages
5½” x 8½” Perfect-bound Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1938912450
First Edition
Reviewer Copy: Paperback
Write Bloody Publishing
Austin, Texas, USA
Available HERE
Review by Cetoria Tomberlin

Megan Falley’s second full-length poetry collection, Redhead and the Slaughter King, is a tour-de-force in the exploration of the tangled nature of love—How family, friends, and lovers give and take the thing we seek the most, sometimes without explanation or cause.

The book delivers an interesting twist in that it is reminiscent of Falley’s former work, yet moves far beyond the pages of After the Witch Hunt. Falley’s black humor and sleight-of-hand writing style is still very much present, but the material has moved on from herself. The book is divided into five parts that count backward. The effect leaves the reader anticipating what is to come with each turn of the page.

The poems of the first section primarily address Falley’s emotions about intimacy and love gone wrong. She uses her words to take shots at patriarchy as well as former lovers. Falley again shows her ability to use honesty as a weapon against the horrors the world has in store for all of us, particularly exes that treat you less than kindly:

[…] and I told myself you’d learn
to love me, and I never forgave you
for how close you might have come

if we had met in a different year,
in different bodies.

I think there’s a difference
between being a bad person
and being bad at being a person,

and I think you know
which one you are.
(from “Letter from the First Woman I Tried to Love,” p. 9)

As always, it’s easy to identify with Falley. Her poems make you laugh when you really want to cry. She says the things you wish you could have said. But you are not jealous of her. Her pain rings too real ever to inspire jealousy.

Throughout the collection, Falley once again employs her trademark black humor, making the reader smirk, possibly laugh, at the irony of this common life we all share.

[…] but mostly she was a regular mom.
She drove me to swimming lessons and went to the movies
and criticized herself in mirrors so I would learn to do it too.
(from “The Mermaid’s Daughter,” p. 41)

Another delicate subject Falley tackles is addiction and substance abuse, specifically through the author’s brother’s struggles. The book is filled with poems addressing the various trials and tribulations both her family and she have dealt with. For anyone with a family member or loved one who has gone through the same, her words are felt to the core.

[…] But I am the writer—not the star
of the funeral, but its narrator—

here to translate the language of grief
into simple, digestible metaphor.

To wield euphemisms. Turn addiction
into grip on reality. Turn overdose

into sudden, unfair […]
(from “The First Ceremony,” p. 48)

I recommend this collection for anyone who enjoys heartfelt poetry that speaks to all the pieces of that elusive beating organ.

CETORIA TOMBERLIN is a Staff Book Reviewer and a poet and fiction writer who lives in Northwest Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, NonBinary Review, Southern Women’s Review, The Battered Suitcase, Spires, and online at LADYGUNN and HelloGiggles. She is also a book reviewer for Mixed Diversity Reads.
• This book review was submitted to Alternating Current in its entirety from the reviewer. Alternating Current did not receive a copy of the book but believes there to be no relationship beyond interest between the publisher, author, and reviewer. • Permalink • Tag: The Volt •

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