Review by freelance writer and reviewer Kirsty Hewitt
Everblossom by Larissa Hinton is a collection of short stories and poems, all of which circle around one central theme. It is split up into three separate sections which meander through the life-cycle of a flower `from bud to blossom and then back to seed', a lovely idea for a collection. It includes some of Hinton's early work and does therefore not just deal with the growth and fruition of a flower, but with the evolution of the writer herself. `The beginning of the end' is also a continuing reverberation throughout.
Everblossom is essentially about human emotions and the fragility of life, and features very varied subject matter. The paranormal appears briefly, as do faeries and shape shifters. There are echoes of magical realism throughout.
The first set of poems and stories deal with childhood - the wonders of rainbows, playing in sandpits, dancing and laughing and the like. Most of the writing in this collection contains morals, primarily the importance of enjoying one's childhood and later life. Particularly poignant is `Born Without a Heart' which deals with the aftermath of the death of a baby, and `Forget', where a young girl foresees her father's death, shunned by her mother in the process.
`From Mother to Fetus' is a wonderfully sweet and touching letter written from a mum-to-be to her newborn child. It deals with racial stigma and overcoming problems which are likely to be encountered during the child's life, particularly with regard to the relationship between mother and baby.
The narrative style is interesting and Hinton places a modern twist upon the usual generic prose styles. In stories such as `In the Beginning, There Were Fairy Tales', a traditional `once upon a time' structure has been used, but there is also the added dimension of an informal narrative voice, thus adding a contemporary flavour. Some of the sentences seemed a little clumsy but others were incredibly poetic. A few of the stories are so short that a heightened sense of empathy and pity is unable to be built up. The reader has no real idea who the characters are or how they function in some cases. Sadly, there are a few grammatical errors throughout which made the writing seem less polished than it should have done. There were also few discrepancies in the collection - a character being called Lucia and Lucille in the same story, for example.
With regard to the poetry included in Everblossom, an introductory poem has been included at the beginning of each section which was rather a nice touch. Hinton's poetry is incredibly contemporary in terms of style. It is mainly written in free verse and there are no rhyming patterns as such. The poems themselves are very evocative on the whole, but I did find that the structure of `Sideways Glance' seemed rather muddled. Some of the poems are definitely stronger than others.
To conclude, the Kindle version of this book only comes in at 63 pages which I personally think is too short to be deemed an `anthology'. `A short story and poetry collection' would have seemed far more appropriate as a subtitle. I personally would have liked to have seen a little more atmosphere built up in each of the stories as many of them seemed more like snapshots or tiny fragments. It was, however, a promising collection which can easily be read in one sitting.