"Dehiscent" Book Review

Written by Zach Rosenberg

Published by Tenebrous Press

dehiscent ashley deng poster large

Written by Ashley Deng
2023, 100 pages, Fiction
Released on August 1st, 2023


Power and privilege collide in Ashley Deng’s sterling debut. Dehiscent is a cli-fi book, set in a world of oppressive climate. From agonizingly hot to painfully cold, remnants of civilization hunker down and await the inevitable endings. But the Zhu family are different. Living in their ancestral home, the Zhus are seemingly insulated from the terror that others experience. Our heroine Yi has lived her entire life there and uncovers the secrets that make her prosperity possible.

From the start, Deng constructs a book in the vein of weird horror. Climate change fiction is often scary and Deng spares no expense, painting the canvas of her world with loving strokes to illustrate the nightmare with which most of the people live. The prose is layered, textured, and as neatly cultivated as a garden. Each word is well-chosen and splendid.

“The House Provides” are words that haunt Yi throughout the book. Yi leaves the horror in the background, buried as clues throughout the narrative. Only when secrets are revealed does the reader truly realize just how much the writer has led them through the dark with flashlight on the entire time.

Deng is nothing if not subtle, and her characters are nuanced and layered. Yi is someone cognizant of her privilege but ignorant as to its meaning. She is a person who is deeply flawed but trying to be better in a society that does not always allow for kindness. Humankind is on its last legs and the Zhu house feeds on that death to repurpose it for life, taking from the vulnerable to give to the comfortable.

Through themes of climate, scarcity, isolation, wealth, and sacrifice, Deng has constructed a book that will linger hot and burn cold within the reader’s mind for long to come.


Overall: 4 Star Rating Cover
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Zach Rosenberg
Staff Reviewer
Zach Rosenberg is a fantasy and horror writer living in Florida. He appreciates the ocean, wildlife and his love of literature was constantly nurtured growing up where he practically lived in the libraries, reading every horror and fantasy book he could get his hands on. His print debut short story "The Teeth Of the Deeps" is featured in the fifth short story collection from Dead Sea Press.
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