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Reviews for THE MANUFACTURER OF SORROW my new poetry collection avalable in trade paperback and ebook from Eldritch Press

REVIEWS FOR THE MANUFACTURER OF SORROW


"Not all writers of fiction are able to effectively write poetry and not all poets are able to effectively chill a reader to the bone with a one page poem. But Michelle Scalise can and she’s been doing it with ease for nearly 20 years. The Manufacturer of Sorrow is Scalise’s latest release, her first full poetry collection, and in it contains 41 new and previously released works of dark poetry.
Scalise touches on family and madness, asylums and insanity, a soul eating cat, creepy swamp people, eroticism, mermaids, religion, sorrow and death, graveyard shadows, revenge and murder, a sinister carnival, and so many more emotions, fears and feelings of dread. “Intervals of Horrible Sanity” is not only the title of Scalise’s first short fiction collection, it’s also the title of one of the most beautifully written poems in this volume. One of the many that are read and then re-read not for a want of better understanding, but to savor the dark words of art she provides. We are also gifted with a nice surprise in “November” and “Badges of Either’s Woe” in which Scalise has teamed up with her multi-genre writing husband Tom Piccirilli. They are chilling and beautiful all at the same time.
One doesn’t need to be a poetry connoisseur in order to fully appreciate with dark delight the words on the pages of this slim volume. Whether you read them aloud to a dully lit room full of friends, or whispered quietly to yourself as you enjoy a candlelit bath, do yourself a favor and discover what you might be missing in the field of dark poetry.
Michelle Scalise exemplifies herself as a true artisan of the macabre and the written word as she is able to fright, delight, romance, disturb and titillate with a few clever words on the page."--Jonathan Reitan for LIVING DEAD MAGAZINE

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The Manufacturer of Sorrow by Michelle Scalise (Eldritch Press, 2014) takes the reader on a ride through loss and madness in the most beautiful way.
Evil Enchantments By Song: "Even after shock treatments she’s still filled with lies/ She’s just blurred at the edges now".
There are poems of life ending before its first breath and love spinning into infinite vacuums; the result of lies told, truth withheld. Scalise is the master manufacturer of dark dreams, singing the ultimate lullaby. I highly recommend this collection. -- Linda Addison for SPACE AND TIME MAGAZINE ( issue 122)

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"Michelle Scalise presents her first poetry-only horror collection in The Manufacturer of Sorrow, which held a place on the Women’s Authors best-seller list at Amazon for several weeks in 2014. The collection’s title is taken from the poem, “Mouthful of Thorns.” The forty-one poems touch on a wide range of macabre perceptions and experiences: death by drowning, life in asylums and prison, autumn as the season of impending death, and the peculiar horrors self-absorbed parents visit upon their children. The three final poems, “Red,” “Recede,” and “Her Little Blue Pills” evoke every parent’s – and child’s – deepest dread. Nearly every child has had to take, at some point, pills “crushed in grape jelly” or other sweet substance – these little pills, however, are not meant to cure. Erotica is featured in many of the poems, as well. Among these “Shadow on the Waves” takes the laurel, with its “surging waves” providing ecstasy as well as finality. The poetry structure in these works ranges from classic iambic meter of various lengths to an almost foxtrot-style meter in “Dark Garden”. Ms. Scalise uses actual rhymed words and phrases sparingly: “death walks in lace and waits behind the door / Life like a shadow running through cracks in the floor” (from “Close the Door”), but these stylized lines create powerful images, and add true poetic depth to the pieces. Lovers of horror and the macabre unfamiliar with Ms. Scalise’s writing would do well, however, to take the plunge with The Manufacturer of Sorrow, before continuing their exploration of her work with her mixed prose and poetry collections, Intervals of Horrible Sanity (2003) and Collective Suicide (2012). Readers who know her earlier work will find delights both spine-tingling and poignant in this new collection."-- AMAZING STORIES

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"“Cat”, which deals with the loss of a child via mythology, hit me right where it needed to. The flow pulled me along effortlessly, the images were sharp and the heart was laid bare. The same goes with the immediate followup, “Blue Rose Tattoo”. From that point, the reading got much better. By the last third of the book, every single poem just goddam nails it. “Close the Door” is a deft dance of fear and desire intertwined, “Posthumous Voices” winds and wraps and tickles its way into the worst parts inside and “Her Little Blue Pills” just plain kicked my ass. There are quite a few damn fine poems here that straddle that razor line of taking nightmarishly specific horrors and translating them into a universal experience in a way that breathes naturally..." Eviscerating Pen

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This collection of forty-one poems is filled with dark avenues of pain, grief, insanity, anger and so much more. There are no simple, easy, happy-go-lucky places to travel here. Be prepared. I’ve personally read this a number of times now and have found myself deeply engrossed in the macabre mood and bleak territory in which the book takes me. It is now officially a part of my collection that I will re-read time and time again.Two of the included works are co-written with her husband, Tom Piccirilli, and they simply add a slight edge. But Scalise’s solo material is certainly nothing to scoff at. Now to mention just a few poems that stand out for me, and for a variety of reasons. ‘She Sings Eternal Madness’ rings out a true feeling of madness, with lines that chill to the bone. ‘The Blue Rose Tattoo’, touches a lonely emptiness with lines like, “I suspect the waters much colder down there in the past where your sins clog up a stream like dead trees.” ‘Her Little Blue Pills,’ will leave one wondering about the motivation in constructing this one, as we deal with the mother in this and how anyone could survive such a life. Lastly I want to mention one that is a definite favorite of mine, ‘Recede’. This one is amazing, and will last with me for a very long time. I would be remiss not to mention the excellent photos that are sprinkled throughout the collection.They are also dark, but have a very real feel to them. There are countless poems here to get into, certainly too many to list here. Do yourself a favor and get this book and read, read, read. Horror Novel Reviews.com-Vitina Molgaard

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"Michelle Scalise’s collection of dark and evocatively disturbing poetry, The Manufacturer of Sorrow, contains 41 poems that explore the underbelly of human emotion. It is a journey through a modern landscape littered with the signposts of horror: the collection traipses through dark asylums and blood-stained maternity beds...Alongside questioned sanity, bleak eroticism crawls through this collection...Kisses are poisoned, trysts regretted, children abandoned, with intimacy wreaking horrible damage. The poems weave a complex combination of lust, loss, shadows, and sex in a grim tapestry. The collection also engages with the darker side of motherhood, with several poems including neglectful, abusive, or downright twisted maternal figures. They drug their children, haunt their dreams, steal their souls, and chain them to asylum beds, flitting past with perfect red lipstick and hollow smiles. The collection’s primary strength lies in its atmosphere. The similar length of each poem, along with a unity of subject matter and similar vocabulary, manages to weave a dark but appealing window into the less stable sides of the human experience. Poems with a thoroughly dark subject matter and shadowed atmosphere. Madness, twisted eroticism, and damaging motherhood make up the backbone of the collection...it should leave the reader with a pleasant sense of unease." --SCIENCE FICTION POETRY ASSOCIATION, Star*Line Magazine

Rreviews for COLLECTIVE SUICIDE my short story collection from Crossroad Press

 

Collective Suicide is an amazing collection of extremely high quality speculative fiction and stimulating poetry. Scalise’s work hearkens back to a period when horror fiction followed no commercially defined formula in both style and substance. Her tales are heavily infused with atmosphere; allowing it equal weight as her plotting. Scalise also assumes that we are intelligent readers, letting our imaginations define the terrors she proffers without resorting to depicting extreme acts of violence or the video-ready images born of horror movies. Readers will be hard pressed to find other contemporary horror or fantasy authors who can pen such tales with as much flair and intelligence as Scalise does. Many of the stories in Collective Suicide are set in decades long past, her style evocative of an era when merely a combination of subtle plot changes and the weight of the words themselves would be enough to send readers minds into overdrive.

As for the fiction in this collection, I found every one of the stories to be delightfully out of the ordinary and a joy to read. Two of those, bookends really, called ‘I Am The Shadow That Walks There’ and ‘The Beautiful Ones’, where highlights for me, and both lingered long in my mind after I finished reading them. The first concerns a man battling the physical and metal ravages of World War II while mourning the death of his lover. The latter is about a playwright in gaslight London whose circle of friends and their influence crumble after his mentor is exposed as a homosexual. Both these stories contain horrors that are deeply layered and work on multiple levels; from the realistic terrors of societal judgments to supernatural retributions arising from guilt.

One story that had me breaking out in goose bumps, ‘The Night Around Me Falling’, is a tale of a woman on a plane who has a young girl approach her and ask if she would like her fortune told. Though the ending of this story may be easily telegraphed by its description, in Scalise’s hands you will relish the spin she puts on it.

The remaining stories in the collection, including plots dealing with a plague, the government’s radiation sickness testing program, the internment of a woman’s grave to retrieve a book, and a cat who can manhandle a body part or two, are all fascinating and well written tales that are sure to please readers.

I am not a poet or a fan of the genre so I’ll let others comment on the quality of the poems presented in this collection. As someone who is often baffled by poetry, I will say that I enjoyed all of them and that I didn’t once scratch my head with a puzzled look while reading any of them. I found them all easy to read, understand, and I thought they were affecting.

If you are not familiar with Scalise’s fiction or poetry, Collective Suicide is the perfect collection to start with. After finishing, I think you’ll find yourself seeking out much more from this author.

—HORROR WORLD -TT Zuma

 


Here's what reviewers have to say about my recent story I AM THE SHADOW THAT WALKS THERE which appeared in the Stoker-award winning anthology Unspeakable Horror. My story was nominated for the 2010 Spectrum Award which honors outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy and horror that include significant positive explorations of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters, themes, or issues.


"Michelle Scalise’s “I Am the Shadow That Walks There” is a wonderful piece of historical fiction with a gruesome ghostly plotline that certainly fuses classic horror with modern splatter. In it, two young writers from the Oxford crowd join the fight in the First World War to seek adventure, but tragedy ensues. One of them, Edmund, ends up in a psychiatric hospital (kudos to Scalise for an excellent portrayal of the asylum and medical environment during this period) and is reluctant to divulge his love for Lewis (missing in action) to Doctor Price, who in the spirit of the nineteenth-century sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing only sees same sex attraction as deviance and disease. Edmund’s quest to understand what happened and be reunited with Lewis is effective and frightening. Like many of the stories, it packs a shocking conclusion." -HORROR BOUND MAGAZINE

"In Michelle Scalise’s “I Am the Shadow That Walks There” we savour classy storytelling, admirably blending the story of a homosexual affair with the horrors of war." -NOSSA MORTE

"Standout stories include (but are certainly not limited to): 'Black Annis' by Joy Marchand, the tale of a true faerie who desperately wants to protects a pair of gay lovers; 'Memento Mori' by Elissa Malcohn, about a lover who comes back from the grave for her mate; 'I Am the Shadow that Walks There' by Michelle Scalise, a World War II era tale of love and devastating loss; and 'Memory Box' by Reesa Brown, a tale whose true darkness hits suddenly and unrelentingly. Unspeakable Horrors [sic] is highly recommended for all libraries." -- Michele Lee, Monster Librarian



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"The Disinterment of Ophelia" by Michelle Scalise, an oddly touching look at how a spot of grave robbing for the sake of poetry affects a nicely varied cast of Dickensian characters.-Rambles.net

The issue also features six short fiction selections; one of which is entitled "Three Floors Down We Cleanse the Soul" by Michelle Scalise, a particularly chilling little piece about familial decay in the South.-Coolshopping.com

Here's what reviewers had to say about my story THE BEAUTIFUL ONES which appeared in Crimewave 8 and received an honorable mention in this YEARS BEST FANTASY AND HORROR

"In "The Beautiful Ones," Michelle Scalise takes us back in time to Victorian London for the first person tale of a failing poet and playwright who is secretly gay and addicted to chloral, which causes vivid hallucinations. When one of his associates—a more successful playwright named Childe—is arrested for indecency for cavorting with young, male prostitutes, our protagonist must decide whether to publicly come to the aid of his friend, or suffer what he is in silence. Or does the chloral have other plans?This is a well-written story. Scalise does a wonderful job of painting a different time period for us and has peopled it with sympathetic characters who are fully realized." -TANGENT ONLINE

"‘The Beautiful Ones’ by Michelle Scalise is a story that works on many levels. The narrator is a failed playwright and wannabe aesthete, who lives on the fringes of the Edwardian gay in-crowd, the ‘beautiful ones’ of the title. He is haunted by visions of a drowned woman, the wife of Childe, an Oscar Wilde character facing the same kind of trial that the great man did. Mrs. Childe is very much alive as the visions are induced by chloral, the drug of choice for the beautiful and sophisticated. The aesthetes are portrayed as desperate, elegant, and persecuted – but also have their delusions about themselves revealed. They hand hard faced rent boys roses and quote poetry in an effort to gild a lifestyle that is self centred, shallow, and exploitative, devoid of any loyalty, affection, or genuine emotion. When the crisis comes, both Childe and the narrator are abandoned by their friends. The most honest assessment of them comes from a renter who betrays them : ‘pretentious fops pretending you were better than me.’Threaded through this story is another one: that of Childe’s wife, a pathetic creature who loves her husband and retains her devotion to him although she is of no importance to him. She is fated to be a ‘shadow drifting past his window,’ an object of mockery to his witty friends (her dress sense is despicable, apparently, and her loyalty and devotion of no account). The narrator’s visions turn out to be premonitory – for all the excessive emotion and dramatics of the aesthetes, it is she who commits suicide, quietly and without fuss. The haunting of the narrator is really a battle with his inner self. Marriage with a suitable girl who bores him is on the cards. He knows the damage done to Mrs. Childe, but he tries to love his fiancée (after all, her father will finance his latest play) but in the end is torn hopelessly between his desire for men (eerily explored in dream sequences) and the security of the camouflage of marriage. The denouement is shocking and it is impossible to know who to feel most pity for. " -Laura Hird THE NEW REVIEW

"Michelle Scalise's "The Beautiful Ones", a spooky tale narrated by a chloral-supping aesthete, goes the whole hog and plunges into the demimonde of Oscar Wilde's Victorian London." -Guardian.co.uk

.raise for my first collection, Intervals Of Horrible Sanity


"It isn't often that a collection reveals its brilliance so quickly, but Intervals of Horrible Sanity trumpets Michelle Scalise's unique talent from the intense, harrowing first story and maintains its unbreakable hold until the last page. Even after closing the book, the resonances of the tales never quite let go. Whether violent, chilling, unsettling, or shocking, each selection earns its right to be included; there is no filler here, only the "good stuff."

"Three Floors Down We Cleanse The Soul" forces readers to inhabit the dismal world of Rebel, a relative who is manipulated -- in the way that only those who supposedly love you can -- to care for a human vegetable, a lump of flesh that should have died long ago, but his heart has not gotten the message to stop beating. In between stomach-churning duties in the sick room, she shares the house with her uncle's mentally unstable family and a deadweight of secrets and lies that ensnares all who enter. But, the most closely-held secrets are too powerful to contain and, when they slip out, the devastation is total. Rebel's voice is a twisted lullaby, haunting the reader long after the particulars of the story are lost to memory.

Quick, sharp shocks await in many of the selections -- deceptively brief, but packing a full load of unpleasant surprises. "The Night Around Me Falling," "Just Someone Her Mother Might Know," and "Where Death Sends Here" are a trio that Rod Serling would probably have jumped on in an instant. Shocks of a more scandalous bent lay their horror out in sexual obsessions and acts that manage to leave "normal" paraphilias far behind. "Wages of Faith" and "Blunting the Fine Point of Pain" represent these particular horrors and earn my extremely rare NC-17 rating which hasn't cropped up in quite awhile.

More than the plots in this collection make it one of the truly great books of 2003; Scalise has a gift for creating unforgettable characters. Seth Taylor, Cynthi James, Redmond, and Sister Theresa -- all saddled with burdens too heavy for any to carry more than a few staggering steps. The solutions they find and how much they believe they can bear say more about their nature than any standard method of description could ever provide. Weak, kind, disturbed, or luckless, they shoulder the weight of Scalise's stories, even as it grinds them down, the unwanted obligation that haunts them.

Haunting. Rarely does one word so perfectly describe an author's work. But, most authors are not Michelle Scalise. And the emotional impact of short stories and poems is seldom as intense as in Intervals of Horrible Sanity. Scalise brings to life -- or death -- a level that is sometimes too painful to look at directly, but which we have always suspected, when we have allowed ourselves to conceive, before we pushed such thoughts away. Far, far away." -SFSite- 2004 Lisa DuMond

Also selected as one of Ms. DuMond's picks for top ten best books of the year!


"With close to two hundred short stories and poems published in such anthologies as The Darker Side, Dark Arts, and Best Women's Erotica 2003, it's about time Michelle Scalise got her own book! In her debut, Intervals of Horrible Sanity, Scalise offers a combination of 30 dark and macabre short stories and poems.
Michelle starts off the collection with a wonderful tale titled "Three Floors Down We Cleanse the Soul". Ghosts, suicide and incest, how can you go wrong? "I was born in the arms of a corpse" begins the second story, "Eating Cotton Candy At the Dead Twin Carnival". Just try to put the book down after reading that opener! The third story, "The Night Around Me, Falling" will teach you to ignore the person sitting next to you on an airplane while the chilling, "Unsounded Deeps to Dance" puts HBO's prison drama, OZ, to shame."Just Someone Her Mother Might Know" is a story of murder, love, and more specifically, an entertaining tale of a mother coming back from the dead to kill her daughter's lover. In "Devil's Ring", Michelle takes on the traditional vampire tale and turns it 360 degrees around with her own unique style. One of the most enjoyable stories, "Dweller on the Threshold" is a period piece with a surprise ending that will shock even the most die-hard horror fan. "The House of Fall and Sorrows" is a zombie story that will disgust and terrify you, just as any classic zombie movie would. The most disturbing story of all, "Where Death Sends Her", is one you just have to read aloud, it punches like a powerful poem. And speaking of powerful poems, Michelle includes 16 poems in this collection that are sure to please everyone. Not being a poetry expert myself, I can't pick them to pieces and criticize each one, but I do know what moves me, and that's Michelle's poetry. Specifically, the haunting and sinister poems, "Intervals of Horrible Sanity" and the most pleasing, "Shadow Forms". Ending the book is an erotic thriller, "What She's Worth", which makes one question Michelle's innocence.With my only criticism being that I think some of the short stories could be just as good translated into novellas; it is very safe for me to say that I think Michelle Scalise is going to be one of the big names in horror soon, and one you won't forget after reading Intervals of Horrible Sanity. Move over Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite, Michelle Scalise is the new mistress of darkness to watch out for"-, Cemetery Dance Magazine, Jonathan Reitan

"Visceral, Dark, Disturbing. The images stand out like old scars, pain and suffering that stay with you forever. Be prepared for an unsettling read." - Talebones Magazine

"Michelle Scalise's writing is entertaining, emotionally charged and challenging. She manages to be shocking and surprising, brutal and moving, lyrical and gritty, and her stories have a way of staying with you for a long time. I don't know what dark magic she uses ... but I like it!" -- Tim Lebbon, Bram Stoker award winning author of AS THE SUN GOES DOWN and THE NATURE OF BALANCE

"Michelle Scalise is a born storyteller who fills her tales with narrative muscle and the relentless draw of seductive dreams. Once hooked you won't be able to resist her dark charms."–Tom Piccirilli, Bram Stoker award winning author of THE NIGHT CLASS and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN


"Michelle Scalise's poetry and stories are siren songs from the heart of darkness: they draw the reader in with their beauty and passion, and deliver terrible truths with precision and power. Her work captivates and torments with its haunting vision." - Gerard Houarner, author of THE BEAST THAT WAS MAX, ROAD TO HELL

"MICHELLE SCALISE'S writing evokes the dark beauty of a razor glinting in the moonlight. Sharp, powerful and emotinally unsettling, Scalise is a masterful new talent. I'm a fan!" --Brian Keene, Bram Stoker award winning author of THE RISING and NO REST FOR THE WICKED

"The company of accomplished poets that have turned their hands to crafting exceptional weird tales is a small but distinguished group that includes Clark Ashton Smith, Joseph Payne Brennan, and of course Edgar Allan Poe. With the publication of Intervals Of Horrible Sanity we can now add the name of Michelle Scalise to this dark and august company. Definitely an important new voice in the genre." --John Pelan, Bram Stoker award winning editor of THE DARKER SIDE and co-author of FAMILY TRADITION

"Michelle Scalise's work doesn't scream or howl or scratch at the walls trying to get out . . . but it doesn't have to be to get the job done. Subtle and hard-edged, her stories will slip quietly into your mind like a knife made of ice and stay with you long after the blade is removed." --P.D. Cacek, Bram Stoker award winning author of NIGHT PRAYERS and CANYONS

"Michelle Scalise is one of those rare writers who can successfully pair shock with sensitivity. Her work is at turns poetically conceptual and viscerally riveting. INTERVALS OF HORRIBLE SANITY will take you places you may not always want to visit but which you will never forget." -- Charlee Jacob, Bram Stoker award winning author of THIS SYMBIOTIC FASCINATION and GUISES

"When I read erotica, I rarely have much of a reaction. When I read Scalise's erotica, my wife flees in terror." -- Michael Oliveri, Bram Stoker award winning author of DEADLIEST OF THE SPECIES and co-author of 4x4

"Michelle's work is always intense, very energetic, with compelling, poetic use of language. I predict we'll be seeing the name Scalise in more tables of contents and on many more book-spines as the years progress!" Mark McLaughlin --Bram Stoker award winning co-author of THE GOSSAMER EYE and YOUR HANDY OFFICE GUIDE TO CORPORATE MONSTERS