Metastasis by Rhonda Parrish

Metastasis by Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: Wolfsinger Publications
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (196 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Walk with us as we explore the world of cancer as seen through a speculative lens. Hold our hands while we venture into the world of what ifs. Take a journey at our side as we experience the full spectrum of what cancer has to offer. The light, the darkness.

Within these pages you’ll meet a woman who adores her cancer as a lover, another who sees it as her ticket to immortality. We’ll meet a boy willing to do anything to save his mother and another with superpowers. There’s a witch who uses magic to fight against the beast ravaging her friend’s body, a cat whose capacity for love is unparalleled, a damaged musician, aliens, a goddess butterfly and so much more.

These are not easy stories to read. This is not a comforting collection that will wipe your fears away and make everything all right. It’s not that kind of book. These stories will make you cry, but they’ll also make you laugh. They’ll touch you and stir emotions, some of which you might not like, but that’s okay. It really is. These stories aren’t all fun, but they are important. All of them.

Cancer scares us. There is so much we don’t know about it, but it’s out there, waiting to strike. This anthology attempts to strike back. To support research that will develop new treatments and, eventually, a cure.

Few diagnoses invoke as much fear and misunderstanding as cancer does. It’s much more difficult to feel awe when facing this disease. Until now.

“Oil and Water” was by far my favourite tale. Tasmin and Maya adopt a baby they name Bob who soon develops the ability to fix certain things with his mind. He can clean a window or take stains out of clothing using mental powers that average humans can’t understand. Telling their tale under the guise of conducting an interview with one of Bob’s mothers matches the tone of the plot quite well, and the ending took me by surprise. Had this been a standalone piece it would have earned a much higher rating. It would be interesting to meet these characters again in a sequel one day.

In “The Gypsy Cure” a young boy visits a gypsy hoping to find a cure for his mother’s illness. Her time is extremely limited and he’s hoping for a miracle. While this tale has an intriguing premise, the ending felt anticlimactic and abrupt given everything the reader learns about the characters in this piece. This pattern repeats itself with several other stories in the collection. With rare exceptions, the premises of these pieces are quite interesting. They simply needed more time to be developed. I had trouble understanding what the authors were trying to say in poems like “A Murder of Crows,” but this also could have been easily fixed if a little more time was spent ironing out certain metaphors.

I couldn’t stop reading “The Dead Rise for Me.” In it a dying, pregnant woman named Regan must decide whether or not to help a ghost she notices while walking to her temporary home. There were a few plot points that were never fully explained, but I was haunted by the choices Regan has made. She remained in my thoughts long after I finished her adventure.

What I liked most about this collection was its diversity. These stories and poems cover a wide range of experiences and emotional reactions to cancer, including what it feels like to love someone whose prognosis is poor. As someone with personal experience with the latter, I was pleasantly surprised by how universal certain thoughts and feelings are when one is in this situation.

I stayed up late to finish Metastasis. I would especially recommend it to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one living with this disease.

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