Book Review: I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

“At times delicate and poetic, yet can turn as sharp and deadly as the stroke of a knife through flesh.

Never open your story with a corpse? S.P. Miskowski smashes that rule with a tale of a young woman who is forced to solve a murder. She has no choice because the corpse is her own and she doesn’t want to be remembered as some Cobain imitator. Set in Seattle in the early nineties, I Wish I was Like You follows the story of Greta, who journeys to the Emerald City in the wake of having an affair with a has-been writer turned professor who tears apart her crime manuscript and tells her to give up on writing.

Greta’s ghost roams the city, turning over the events that lead her to death in the living room of her apartment. Her monologue is both pessimistic and darkly humorous; endearing the reader to the spirit of a girl who was no saint in her previous existence but, like so many of us this side of death’s veil, was just trying to get ahead in life by any means necessary. She also encounters those on their way out of the living world, sometimes giving them a bit of a push to help them along. Greta’s voice is cynical but rightfully so as she sheds light on the real world she was once a part of and reveals the story of her death through the memories of the oftentimes lonesome existence of living in a big city, trying to make it on your own surrounded by those looking to take advantage of others. Greta is headstrong and has nothing to fear anymore since she’s dead. Nothing will stop her from solving her own murder and painting the town black with vengeance in her wake.

There are many thoughts on writers and the rules of writing, this book has a few burned into the mind of Greta and she turns those ideas on their heads with a sardonic grin. The character, Lee Todd Butcher, states in his crime fiction writing class the first rule is never open your story with a corpse because it’s a cliché. Miskowski clearly displays how incredibly wrong his advice is, poking fun at those pretentious enough to think they have all the answers when it comes to writing a great book. I wish I Was Like You is a page turner from the beginning, its characters, both living and dead, are the type the audience will find intriguing. It’s a unique look into an afterlife where vengeful spirits are more than chain-rattling and unseen hands; instead they are much like us living creatures who are flawed, have vices, curiously seek out old “haunts” and go about our time making the decision to hold onto the wrongs committed against us or just let go of them.

S.P. Miskowski is no stranger to dark writing, with multiple Shirley Jackson Award nominations. Her writing has been in Black Static and Strange Aeons as well as being in a handful of stellar anthologies such as The Madness of Dr. Caligari, Autumn Cthulhu and Cassilda’s Song. Her prose is at times delicate and poetic, yet can turn as sharp and deadly as the stroke of a knife through flesh. She owns a natural ability to convey nightmares into the minds of the reader, like a spirit invading their thoughts, planting the seeds of startling images.  I Wish I Was Like You is a thoroughly enjoyable read for people who already know the dark magic of Miskowski’s prose and a great introduction for any new readers.

                                                                                                                                                   MICHELLE GARZA

Publisher:  Journal Stone
eBook: (253pp)
Publication date: 7 July 2017

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