Writer of Horror Fiction

Posts tagged “novellas

Review of “Darlings of Decay”

Darlings of Decay is an anthology of zombie shorts and novellas written by female authors.  Often, the standard point made in a review of an anthology is that it is a mixed bag; good, bad, and so-so tales populate a book filled with a wide assortment of authors, whether the theme is specific or open ended.  Such is the case with this book, though not entirely for the standard reasons.  This isn’t a book filled with short stories that are all within a certain size range or even stories that are all complete.  Instead, it is a mix of shorts, novellas, and primers, for lack of a better term, from an assortment of authors offering up their take on the zombie apocalypse.

It wouldn’t be altogether fair to be critical of an author whose contribution is more of a primer rather than a whole story.  Unfortunately, stunted tales like those do leave something to be desired.  Granted, it is an attempt to lure the reader to the author’s completed work outside of the anthology, but they left me a bit frustrated at the sudden start and abrupt endings.  There were also a small group of novellas that felt rather expansive for such a book.  They were not necessarily primers, but were parts of larger works with bigger tales to tell, thus once again leaving things open ended unless the reader chooses to seek out the rest of the author’s work.

Darlings of Decay did offer up quite a few short stories that were not hints at bigger tales and some were noteworthy.  Chantal Boudreau, Tonia Brown, Catt Dahman, Lori R. Lopez, and Suzanne Robb all contributed some very entertaining short stories to this work.  As to whetting my appetite for something beyond the pages of this book, Jackie Druga’s “Zombie Battle” had a world building, epic quality to it that made me curious to see where the story would be heading after it cut off here.

Focusing on the quality of the stories, it was indeed a mix of well written, sharply creative tales and dull plodders that were predictable from start to finish.  It was clear that each author had to be responsible for their own editing, as there was no uniformity to each story on that score.  Some were clean while quite a few were clogged with obvious typos and awkward phrasing that could have been addressed with a uniform editorial sweep.

Treat this book as a sample platter and you will likely not be disappointed in what it has to offer.  Nibble here and there-try the short stories and perhaps take a peek at the longer tales and decide whether what they have to offer are worth some bigger bites.  Keep that in mind and you should come away satisfied that you have discovered a few new talented voices in the zombie genre that are worth seeking out further works from.

Darlings of Decay can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Darlings-Of-Decay-Shannon-Mayer-ebook/dp/B00DQ1P3S4/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

Review of Eric Shapiro’s “Stories for the End of the World”

Stories for the End of the World is a series of short stories interspersed with three novellas.  Perhaps they are all stories for the end of the world (at least, perhaps, for those in the tales-in one form or fashion), but if you are looking for straight apocalyptic fiction, not every story here qualifies, though a few fit that category.  I had read two of the short stories previously, as they appeared in two separate Undead anthologies put out by Permuted Press.  All the stories here have appeared elsewhere prior to being compiled for this book.  While there are two ‘zombie’ type tales here, there are not walking dead throughout the rest of this book.
The three novellas were all first person tales and each had a very distinct flavor to them.  ‘Days of Allison’ takes us to a future where people can order up robots that are so similar to humans that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference.  The character in the story has a robotic mate ordered up-she is supposed to be docile and in love with him, and she is neither, which makes her both threatening and intriguing to him.  The comment on the cover about Eric Shapiro being the next Philip K. Dick comes from this story.  It certainly is a story that has echoes of Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ to it, with Shapiro’s own unique slant.  The second novella, and my favorite story of the book, is ‘It’s Only Temporary,’ which is about knowing that the world will end and spending those last few hours on earth trying to grasp what you should do to live a life full of meaning and experiences.  It was a touching story that had me thinking about it long after I was finished with it.  ‘Strawberry Man’ came from the other end of the spectrum of the world coming from the end.  Instead of a young man pondering on what he hadn’t been able to achieve in life, as was done with ‘It’s Only Temporary’, here there are reflections from an older man on a life full of conquests but dark secrets and horrible regrets.

The majority of these stories are told in first person, with one told in second person, which is always tricky and interesting to read (and it terrifies me-I doubt I will EVER attempt to write a story in second person).  Quite a few of them were entertaining, though the internal dialog in some got a little bit long-winded here and there.  Nothing that was a major gripe, but more along the lines of a pitfall that can occur in what is primarily first person narratives.

Overall, this is a very entertaining compendium of the author’s work.  Some of the author’s stories were very thought provoking and at least some of it had a bizarro taste to it-especially ‘Newborn’, which was pretty surreal.  I am guessing that some folks, looking for pure apocalyptic fiction, may be disappointed with this book, mostly because Shapiro takes his readers in some odd directions with some of his stories.  The diversions are entertaining if you are open to them, and it is without a doubt a book that raised my eyebrow in intrigue more than once as I read it.

You can find Stories for the End of the World at: http://www.amazon.com/Stories-End-World-Eric-Shapiro/dp/1934861308/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292382578&sr=8-1