Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins by Cathleen Davies is an amazing collection of twenty-six thought-provoking short stories. 


Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins is an eclectic anthology of short stories penned by Cathleen Davies. The book consists of twenty-six tales that are bound to strike a chord with you. These stories are Three Stitches, Rat Maze, Love in the Time of Welly Vodka, Time’s Up, White Butterflies, Blank Face, Ends of the Beck, New Harem Pants, The Sudden Appearance of Bears, Carnival, Pitchforks and Vicodin, Old Soldiers, The Original Story of Kerosene Girl, Proud Boy, Centurion, You Mean Everything, Oh, Rats, Respite, The Old Castle, Hands Up, The Tracks, Snow Days, To the Girl, Your Son’s Good at Time’s Tables, Open Mind, and The Family

All twenty-six stories in Cathleen Davies’ Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins are unique in their own ways. There is a vast array of themes predominant in this book. From feminism, the LGBTQ community, grief, and childhood trauma to the pandemic, survivor’s guilt, serial killers, drugs, and cults, the collection has it all. Carnival is one of the many stories in this anthology that will stay with me for a long time. Penned from the perspective of a serial killer, it depicts how even a minor incident can impact a child’s psyche. By the end of this story, I was left with a gaping mouth. Three Stitches and New Harem Pants underscore how our upbringing and our parents can shape our adulthood. In New Harem Pants, my heart went out to Charles. It seemed he never caught a break even in adulthood. His bafflement at seeing a completely different version of his hitherto strict mother with his daughter was heartbreaking. 

Davies does a wonderful job of enmeshing us in the minds of antagonists. Proud Boy and Hands Up. In Proud Boy, we get to know the story of a self-righteous boy whose views on women are far from ideal. Hands Up, on the other hand, tells us of a police officer who tries his best to justify his action of shooting a teenage girl in the air of justice. 

White Butterflies, Blank Face, Oh, Rats, The Tracks, and Snow Days give us a firsthand look at different faces of grief, trauma, and survivor’s guilt. In White Butterflies, we witness how the suicide of a loved one can break us and propel us to escape from our lives. Blank Face tells the story of a girl who is reluctant to lose her beloved best friend. She holds on to him with everything she has even when it’s evident that everything that she does is to no avail. In Oh, Rats, we meet Marjory, a competent secretary who believes that she is indispensable to her boss. Everything changes when she loses her cat and a dead rat takes sanctuary under her bed. The Tracks, the story of two girls in foster care with a suicide pact, is a story that is bound to leave you quaking. Snow Days is a tale that somehow gives me hope. I still find myself rooting for Isabelle. Davies masterfully paints grief in all its different avatars. 

Ends of the Beck, Time’s Up, and You Mean Everything portray love in today’s fast-paced yet indifferent world. Ends of the Beck brings to us the story of two women, Rebecca and Shanade. Both are single mothers in their forties and are off for a night of passion. It was fun and insightful to see the contrasts in the trysts of these two women who are from completely different backgrounds. Time’s Up is a story that is sure to be relatable to all of us who drag our feet in doing things that we know we ought to do. You Mean Everything is the tale of a woman who had squashed her spirit to stay in a relationship with a man for six years. I was intrigued to see whether she would take the opportunity to put an end to things when she got one. Also, I loved how she reducted the name of the man from her recollections. To the Girl is a story that reminds us of the one we let get away and still hope to find one day while Love in the Time of Welly Vodka talks about bonds that spark on the spur of the moment. 

Rat Maze, Your Son’s Good at Time’s Tables, and Open Mind are tales that are quite relevant today. In Rat Maze, we follow Rebecca, a sixteen-year-old stuck in her vast estate with her indifferent parents due to the pandemic. Her story proves how far isolation can push us. I am sure that the scenario in Your Son’s Good at Time’s Tables is familiar to a lot of us. There have been many times when I  have stopped myself from expressing myself at the right moment and then spent regretting it for eternity. Open Mind takes us on an acid trip with our protagonist. Right along with our privileged narrator, we find ourselves on a bizarre taxi ride with a racist and chauvinist driver and a downtrodden feminist frenemy. 

Cathleen Davies masterfully portrays the plight of women in a number of her stories. In Pitchforks and Vicodin, she presents us with snapshots of different women’s lives. Each sequence starts off with a quote from an eminent personality or a line from a popular song. These quotes and lines all seem to uphold that there is nothing wrong with the way women are treated over the centuries. In fact, men are the ones who are downtrodden. It was eye-opening to see how the stories that came after the quotes proved them wrong. It was heartbreaking to see women are treated even today when we are presumably enlightened. The Original Story of Kerosene Girl is yet another story that will make you rethink things. Davies’ take on the girl who chose to embrace the fire to protect herself is heartbreaking. It shows how even little girls are not spared by society’s miscreants. The Old Castle is a tale that must resound with the LGBT community. The way Davies depicts the fading of queer culture in the face of assimilation is noteworthy. The differences in opinions between Roxanne and her friend are sure to give you some food for thought. 

The Family paints the picture of a cult where people are so brainwashed that they forget the difference between right and wrong. They are willing to do anything. Witness #99 testimony is heart-touching. Her experiences in the cult from childhood to adulthood brought tears to my eyes. I have to say that I am still baffled by her mother. 

Respite is a piece that is the most unique one. Here, the narrator tells us the happenings of several summers in her life in a pointer-based approach. The events are presented in such a straightforward manner that you can’t help but relate with the narrator. 

Cathleen Davies is one talented author. Her stories are contemporary and very much prevalent in our world. She is honest and does not shy away from relating issues that many of us tend to shove under the carpet. She uses the first-person point of view in some stories and the third-person perspective in others. Her writing is free-flowing. Davies’ vivid words grip you and plunge you into the world of her characters. I loved how she infused a wry sense of humor in all her stories. I found myself laughing at some very serious moments. Also, I like how she added an English to American dictionary at the end of the book. I am sure this will be beneficial to all those who are unfamiliar with British terms. Also, the book club questions at the end are very insightful.  
Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins by Cathleen Davies is a brilliant collection of short stories. I assure you that each of these stories will linger in your mind long after you finish them. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. All short story aficionados will be delighted by this anthology.

Book Details

  • Title: Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins
  • Author: Cathleen Davies
  • Genre: Short Stories
  • Theme: Love, Loss, Grief, LGBTQ, COVID
  • Publication Date: August 14, 2022
  • ISBN or ASIN: B09XX756TP
  • Number of Pages: 190
  • Minimum Audience Age: 13

Book Themes

(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)

  • Sexual themes: 1
  • Religious themes: 0
  • Violence, self-harm, etc.: 1
  • Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 2
  • Other adult themes: 0


  • Content: 5 stars
  • Writing Style: 5 stars
  • Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
  • Uniqueness: 5 stars
  • Editing: 5 stars
  • Other factors: 5 stars
  • Overall: 5 out of 5

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By Kajori Sheryl Paul

Reading is my passion, and writing is my compulsion. I started reading from a very early age. Since then, I have not stopped. I have garnered this addiction from my father. I have always loved reading his books. As you can see, books are my world. I escape this world to traverse the world of my books. Naturally, I have an affinity to create worlds of my own. There are thoughts constantly swirling in my head. These are the thoughts that I jot down. Sometimes, they become poems while sometimes stories. More often than not, they are just reviews of the plethora of books I read and the things I do.

2 thoughts on “A Book Review by Kajori: “Cheeky, Bloody Articles: Tales for Well-Dressed Cynics and Optimistic Ragamuffins” by Cathleen Davies”
  1. I love short stories! I don’t always have the time to pick up a full-lenght novel and they allow me to still get my literature fix. And serial killers and cults are two fascinating subjects. Great recommendation!