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OH FUCK OH FUCK IT HURTS: A Collection of Medical Horror by Ruth Anna Evans (Review)

A graphic of a man on a red background with a mouth full of yellow syringes, the cover of OH FUCK OH FUCK IT HURTS by Ruth Anna Evans

I want to open up this review of OH FUCK OH FUCK IT HURTS by saying that Ruth Anna Evans is one of the few authors I trust enough to read a single-author collection from. (Although technically there is a second author, I will cycle back around to that point.) Over the last several years spent reading indie horror, I've found that this is the type of release that generally excites me least, even if I love the work of the author.

Writing short stories is already hard. They have to be engaging and succinct and pull off several narrative elements in a limited amount of space. Writing a whole book's worth of short stories that tie together thematically while also being different enough that they don't bleed into one another is a whole other level of skill that even some of the most prolific writers can't pull off. Evans can.

Each tale in OH FUCK OH FUCK IT HURTS is troubling in a different way. Ranging from graphic gore to heartbreaking tales of characters' failings, the collection covers all aspects of medical horror. Every story in the collection is well-written, with strong themes, but provides a new and personally horrific scenario.

My personal favorite story from the collection was "Colonoscopy" which I found to be the most down to earth and gritty. It felt like a step out of Evans' comfort zone, and I was impressed by how thoroughly she nailed the voice of the piece. It was followed closely by 'FAT' which, ironically, had no traces of fat in the story that could have been trimmed. I think under different circumstances, we could probably have gotten an entire novella out of that story, which brushes on so many emotional and physical topics.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't talk about "The Visitor" by Rik Hoskin. I mentioned in the opening that this is not technically a single author collection, and that is because Evans brought in a guest author to contributor a single story. "The Visitor" is paced slower than the stories that lead up to it in the collection, but was impeccably well done. It's eerie, it's horrifying, and I think it's the perfect fit.

This is a format that I'd love to see more of. Showcasing one story by another author when releasing a collection of your own work is such an interesting way to creative crossover between reader bases.

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