Zakk reviews Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters

The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews “Paper Tigers” by Damien Angelica Walters. 280 pages published by Dark House Press.

“You want to be whole, you want to be real, but you’re not. Even if your stupid hands learned to feel again, it wouldn’t make you anything but what you are, Monstergirl.”


In this haunting and hypnotizing novel, a young woman loses everything–half of her body, her fiancé, and possibly her unborn child–to a terrible apartment fire. While recovering from the trauma, she discovers a photo album inhabited by a predatory ghost who promises to make her whole again, all while slowly consuming her from the inside out.

“She took her hand away from her mouth. All a parlor trick. An illusion. There were no children trapped inside the house. The door to the turret room creaked open, swinging in a wide arc and tell it slid to a stop. The grandfather clock stood, a sentry or a silent witness, its hands unmoving.

Then it chimed.

Time to go home.

Smiling, she entered the turret room where the clock hands ticked their steady backward pace. She left at one hand, raised it to the clock, and glanced over her shoulder.

The house shifted and her vision blurred behind a cloud of darkness smoke and the creeping orange light of fire.”

Paper Tigers is a wonderful piece of intimate horror. Thoughtful and thought provoking. It is a quiet, melancholy read, a ballad strumming away on your heartstrings. Damien Angelica Walters’ prose is syrupy sweet and infectious, leading you through mysterious landscapes.

The narrative of Paper Tigers unravels at a methodical pace, giving up pieces of the puzzle that don’t from pictures just yet. We are living vicariously through Alison, a woman who’s damaged on the outside, fractured on the inside. But yet she stands. She breathes. She finds connections in photos of people long past and/ or forgotten. When one lost/ found photo album calls to her specifically, whispering sweet nothings of a new life she lets her focus shift, becoming one of the lost. Alison’s story demands attention and getting caught in her plight is inevitable.

Paper Tigers isn’t a book that you can just plop down, open a page and read. It doesn’t connect that way. For full enjoyment you must find a quiet place, open yourself up first, make yourself receptive to the prose. Like the photo album, only then will Paper Tigers open to you, show you its sights.

It is quite enjoyable, a definite recommendation for those who desire the emotional side of dark fiction. For those wanting a read that would rather dance in the surrealism of shadows than bathe in the flash of spectacle…

Not to say there aren’t any spectacles to behold.

“She popped out her prosthetic eye and threw it on the floor, not caring if it cracked. What did it matter? It was a trick, a fake. Like the album. Or the tiny diamond ring tucked away in her jewelry box. Oh, the stone was a real enough, but the love behind it wasn’t. Not real enough for a Monstergirl, but she didn’t blame him. Who would want to be with someone who wore her real face? No one. No one sane and normal and healthy would.”

Overall score: 4.5/ 5

Zakk is a big dumb animal!


**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.

About the Author:

Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Paper Tigers (Dark House Press, 2016) and Sing Me Your Scars (Apex Publications, 2015). Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including Cassilda’s Song, Nightscript I,Cemetery Dance Online, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, and Apex Magazine. She’s also a freelance editor and, until the magazine’s closing in 2013, she was an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede.

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