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I have always been a mythology person. I also love studying and learning about cultures and cultural anthropology is a favorite subject. However, I delved much more often into Western Europe than into any Indigenous culture. I believe I only have read two books on the subject. So, when a horror author popped up on my Twitter feed offering a book of short fiction that contained references to native culture and problems, I thought, “Why not?” I wasn’t disappointed.

Welcome to ANOKA by SHANE HAWK.

The entry on the Amazon page states the following:

Welcome to Anoka, Minnesota, a small city just outside of the Twin Cities dubbed “The Halloween Capital of the World” since 1937. Here before you lie several tales involving bone collectors, pagan witches, werewolves, skeletal bison, and cloned children. It is up to you to decipher between fact and fiction as the author has woven historical facts into his narratives. With his debut horror collection, Cheyenne & Arapaho author Shane Hawk explores themes of family, grief, loneliness, and identity through the lens of indigenous life.

“Please find another hobby. This is too horrible for words. How can you imagine someone enjoying this?”

I especially love his grandmother’s blurb! And to be honest, there were parts of this book that I had to take breaks on. I am a bit squeamish over certain matters and he happened to hit two nails on the head. Yeah, so I must be a masochist, I like horror, but a lot of it makes me wonder if I want to really turn the next page. Shane’s stories made me not want to turn the page, and yet, I felt driven to do so… over and over and over again.

I got the paperback version, not really paying attention to the size. It’s on the small side, and I expected a larger book when I saw the word COLLECTION. However, I was quite happy with the stories I got. So, worth it. Besides, I could carry it pretty much anywhere.

The introduction was worth reading and each story has a bit of an explanation with it in an index-like section in the back. I like this, and it gave me some insight into why each story was written when I finished it and looked up the small section provided. I feel like all of the stories had twists and most caught me off-guard with those. That’s always a bonus for someone who has been reading horror for so long. And that’s not something easy to do with such short stories.

“Transfirgured” had a twist and left me wondering what happened next. It could even be considered candy for your imagination. I’d love to revisit the main character’s past and future. As someone who grew up feeling apart from other people in my culture and religion I was raised in, this story resonated with me.

Anyway, I would highly recommend this little collection and I wish Shane well in future endeavors!

Looking for a copy of Anoka? Check here for stores that carry it.

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