short stories

Book Review: Dark Fantasy Stories

Dark Fantasy Stories (Illustrated) by S.S. WolffA huge thanks to Hidden Gems for providing me with the opportunity to read this anthology!

I haven’t read a huge amount of anthologies but am becoming increasingly fond of them. I like having a collection of similar but unique stories all in one place. I was under the impression that these would be quite creepy/scary stories, but they were only slightly ‘dark’ in my opinion. They all had fantasy elements, as the title would suggest, and were all rather good.

Of course, as it’s an anthology, I’m not really reviewing the individual authors’ writing. Instead, I’m going to focus on the editing and the selection of the stories included. The chouces are definitely quite unique, all fantasy tales with supernatural elements. There were some that I especially enjoyed, and some I was not quite so fond of. Overall, I think there was a pretty good range of stories.

As for the editing, I did notice some strange mistakes. There was misplaced punctuation, for example, and I saw a few letters replaced by ‘lookalikes’ – such as replaced by rn. As the copy I own is a review copy, it is possible that the mistakes I noticed were edited out in the final publication, though.

It was a rather short book, which can be seen as both a good and bad thing. 3.5 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Twisted Romance Volume #1

I would like to thank Edelweiss+ again for providing me with this book.

This is actually a collection of short stories as well as comics, all of which are separate from one another. I won’t go through every story, but I will talk about a few.

The art of each comic is very different from the last, as is each plot. As the title suggests, every story is a romance of sorts – but not the conventional, boy-meets-girl kind. A majority of the relationships in this are same-sex, and there is even a polyamorous relationship in one. Bondage is discussed – and described – and my favourite story involved a young princess being held prisoner by a dragon, only to be freed by a spider.

Most of the stories had some sort of fantasy or paranormal element, but not all. There were tragic stories, happy stories; all sorts. As can be expected, there were some I liked more than others. Because of this, it is hard to review the book as a whole. For the most part the writing was really good, and most graphics were lovely. (There were a few I wasn’t so partial to, but that’s just personal preference.) Romances are generally not my favourite genre of stories so I wasn’t that enthralled by this, but I do appreciate the uniqueness of this collection and the quality of the stories. Some were really fantastic, and I really enjoyed having so many different things included. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Half a Creature from the Sea

David Almond is definitely a unique author.

This book is a collection of short stories based on Almond’s own childhood, mixed in with anecdotes of his own experiences. Like most of Almond’s writing, there is a very strange magic realism throughout these stories.

The stories are all based in Felling-on-Tyne, but Almond notes how he altered the setting to fit his stories. The characters are also a mix of fictional and real people.

Religion was clearly a big part of Almond’s upbringing, and he envelopes tht in his writing. However, the stories aren’t particularly religious at all. It’s more the daily routine of the young boys and how religion is incorporated into this.

I’m a big fan of short stories. This collection was really good, though they were all very similar in atmosphere/genre. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily, but I do like a bit of variety.

Almond’s writing is fantastic, as always. Descriptive enough, but still leaving some details to the reader’s own imagination. It was easy to just sit and read this book without needing to put it down. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Murder Under The Christmas Tree

This is the third and final book I was given for Christmas, another collection of classic crime stories. It’s similar to Murder On Christmas Eve, so I’m not going to write too much in this review. Out of the two, though, this is my favourite collection.

The stories in this collection are, for the most part, very good. The last couple weren’t as engaging, but there’s always going to be one or two you don’t like. This collection even includes a tale about Sherlock Holmes (and Watson, of course) bt Arthur Conan Doyle himself. It was actually the first I’ve read of his work, and it was definitely as fantastic as I’d hoped.

Like the other book, the ten stories very from missing jewels hidden inside geese, to missing candle sticks, to death-by-radio. They’re all very interesting mysteries, again seemingly simple on the surface but always a lot more incricate than they seem.

A nice collection of classic “festive” crimes. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

It’s getting a bit late to post these festive reviews so I’ll keep it short. It’s only a short book, anyway.

This book contains four short stories, all crime/detective tales, starting with The Mistltoe Murder. My personal favourite was the final story, The Twelve Clues of Christmas. Every story was great, though, and A Very Commonplace Murder was particularly surprising.

James manages to include a fantastic little hint/twist at the end of the stories, changing your whole perception on what you’ve just read. This made the crimes so much more interesting and real. They were relatively simple crimes – stabbings, poisoning – but there’s always a lot more going on under the surface than you’d expect.

A fantastic little collection, with a foreword by Val McDermid too. 4 stars.

Book Review: Murder on Christmas Eve

My dad gave me a few ‘festive’ crime/detective books for Christmas, and this is the first of the three I have read so far. It contains short stories from a selection of well-known authors in the genre, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and eight others. All taking place during the holiday season, the tales center around bizarre events that appear to have no rational explanation.
The stories and crimes are all very strange and it’s really interesting to see how the cases were solved. Who knew a cat could solve a murder? And the case of the missing manuscript had a very unexpected conclusion indeed.

I got the sense from these stories that I would have appreciated them more if I had read other works by the authors beforehand. Still, the stories were really interesting and had that classical mystery/detective feel to them. 3/5 stars.