As the introduction warns, readers who try to apply logic to this book will go away with their heads spinning. With reason stripped away, the reader is left with perception. And each of the unique and compelling stories in this anthology left a distinct impression on my senses.
Stories, such as "Experiments in an Isolation Tank" by Eric J. Guignard, left me gasping and wheezing while helplessness pulled me down, keeping me trapped in an endless nightmare. While stories such as Monica J. O'Rourke's "Five Adjectives," had me struggling between shame and disgust until a rage began to build - only to be extinguished by frustration. It finally left me with the conflicting desires to vomit and to laugh (albeit ruefully). A sign that both of these stories hit their marks with precision.
Other stories, such as "Inevitable" by Meghan Arcuri and "A Flawed Fantasy" by Jeff Strand, were equal parts funny and awful (the storylines, not the writing). It's a skilled writer who can make you laugh despite yourself and still pack a punch. Both did this superbly.
"Some Pictures in an Album" by Gary McMahon was a page-turner that had my mind reeling while I tried to unravel the mystery. Similarly, "Enchanted Combustion" by Amanda Ottino turned the tables on me with a twist that shed new light on the characters of the story.
Christian A. Larsen's "Mirror Moments" reminded me of Faulkner's "Barn Burning," not in tone but in the feelings that it evoked. That in between age when you are too light and young to be grounded but too heavy and old to be completely free fills the pages of this story. The main character is smart and observant but can't quite grasp the bigger (scarier) world. Yet circumstances force him to make decisions that may have a lasting impact. The author successfully achieved a sinister tone that fit the story well.
Ian Shoebridge's "White Pills" was filled with chilling moments as the protagonist switches from a reporter like account of other people's experiences to disturbing experiences of his own. This story was set up well and led down a dark, recognizable road.
"Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers" by Gord Rollo was as suspenseful and bleak as it was cathartic and delightful. Very impressive.
And, finally, "The Underwater Ferris Wheel" by Michael Bailey had my mother's heart in my throat and my hands sweating as I learned about each of the main characters and the sadness and loss that binds them. I appreciate that the author took a mature and complex character development approach to this story rather than simply exploiting fears common to all parents and children. In the end, the reader is left with a beautiful story that speaks to the power of all human relationships.
The purchase of this book was a win in every way. The money I spent went to a deserving charity. Skilled writers had an opportunity to show off their talents. And I was encouraged to feel a number of gratifying sensations, especially the feeling of being a little less alone, for 374 pages.
- Paperback: 376 pages
- Publisher: Written Backwards (11 October 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1479152439
- ISBN-13: 978-1479152438
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 581 g
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