In “Bloom,” exotic and mysterious, S. Elliot Brandis examines a society based on a belief system that seems both familiar and foreign, comforting and cruel. It is a folk tale detective sacrifice story, and a good one. I adore Brandis’ descriptions! Two words become a complete picture. And when he gets going, one paragraph can be gripping.
Hank Garner covers territory in “The Hereafter”—geographical, meteorological and social—familiar to this Alabama native. My being from the Deep South means his story’s location and language make me so comfortable that, even with the foreshadowing, the horror ending is … I guess “enhanced” is the closest I can come right now. He does dialogue so well, giving each speaker a unique vocabulary and voice.There’s a parallel between Yankee-in-Dixie and Human-in-Haunted-Land in this story. The violence is mostly implied or from the distant past; the current ruckus is brief and final.
In “Eye in the Sky,” by Daniel Arthur Smith, the tentacles are high kilowatt affairs and blue is everywhere … until it’s black. Smith’s clean, tight writing delivers a jolt (ahem). As usual with his stories, he places the reader within the setting. This time, we get to be in a helicopter far above the streets of New York City. But that’s not the dizzying part; wait ’til you get to the arm of liquid chrome, the lifting lightning bolt . . . and those blue eyes.
It is good to read something by Jon Frater again. His story, “Sole Survivor,” is descriptive of place and antagonist. It doesn’t take long for a person to lose hope when all life has broken into fragments. Hold onto your supper; you’ll read of two-ton bloodworms, red ooze, and Sam. It’s as if Nevil Shute had written short horror.
All four third-person stories are engaging and give the reader the option of thinking about their underlying themes. This is excellent writing. Get this book. Plan to read just one. Let me know how that goes.
About The Reviewer:
Deanne Charlton is a well-traveled writer whose first book was a construction paper tome of 16 pages at age 8. She tortured her parents with homemade stage plays, using a sliding glass door to introduce characters. Eventually, she segued into real life, fulfilling a college degree and practicing several professions, and then she retreated to her make-believe world and the friends it now presents. While comfortable with poetry, she ventures into prose upon occasion, including short stories, essays, and book reviews. She curates a writer-dense Facebook group at DCharltonEdits, provides editing services, and tweets as @dcwrites. She is tender, fierce, and loyal.