In this contemplative collection of short stories and poetry, Aren K. Manahan constructs a world in which the narrator is caught in space and time. The titles of the poems are melancholy: “Kiss of Death,” “Emptiness,” “The Last Waltz,” “Fading,” “Gone Too Soon,” “Fall from Grace,” and so on. In the Introduction, she states that “The focus of this book will be heartache—not only how it affects people, but also how they chose to deal with it.” It is a book about being haunted.
Manahan’s writing might remind readers of romance-fantasy writing, as reflected in one of the few prose pieces, “Lake of Shadows,” which narrates a scene about a nameless young woman: “Allowing her body to sway in the unusually warm waters, she gracefully gloats in a lake of lost hopes and dreams. Her small delicate hand floats above her head, shielding her eyes as a stream of pale light crosses over her.”
One of the later poems in the book, “A Point in Time,” shows Manahan’s use of figurative language: “For years, a glass box has been my home; there, I am admired by all / but ignored for my capabilities. / Like the strings on a harp, I am plucked at the will of my captor, / Forced to hit notes I do not wish to play.” She writes clearly and logically, but the items to which she compares home and self—a glass box and strings on a harp—while evocative, are not as original as they could be. This lack of surprise is a consistent weakness in the book.
This book is full of flowing phrases with a romantic, sometimes gothic, sensibility. While those who enjoy poetry that delivers unique ideas won’t find much to chew on, readers who sympathize with those who struggle to find a dream-like love, and enjoy writing that is nakedly emotional, will find plenty to embrace in this collection.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.