Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Horror/flash fiction
Approximate word count: 3,000-3,500 words
Availability Kindle: YES Nook: NO Paper: NO
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Aaron Daniels is the pen name of a fantasy author. Under his other name, he’s written numerous short stories for magazines and anthologies. He’s also written four full-length novels and a short book of tips for authors. Now if you can only figure out his other name. Maybe he’ll out himself.
Michael Crane is a short story writer whose short story collection In Decline we reviewed here. He also has a novelette, A Gnome Problem, reviewed here.
For years they’ve been “man’s best friend.” They’re cute and cuddly. Who doesn’t love a puppy? But what if these adorable creatures grew tired of sucking up to us for our attention and table scraps? You’d have Evil Puppies, seven short stories from Aaron Daniels plus a bonus story from Michael Crane.
Depending on your definition, at an average story length of fewer than 400 words, Evil Puppies probably falls within the classification of “flash fiction.” In previous reviews I’ve discussed my attitude about short stories and how that attitude has changed. Flash fiction condenses the short story form even more.
I think to appreciate flash fiction you have to approach it differently than you would a full novel. If a novel is a complete meal, and a typical three or four thousand word short story is a substantial snack, then I’d extend the analogy to say flash fiction is a treat, maybe a single piece of candy. It might not fill you up, but string a few together and it will get you to your next meal. (Don’t eat too many or you’ll ruin dinner.)
Taken on those terms, flash fiction in general, and Evil Puppies specifically, is a lot of fun. If there is such a thing as comedic horror, I found it here. The premise is both ridiculous (those adorable little things wouldn’t really turn on us … would they?) and horrifying (imagine if they did). Daniels’ wide-ranging stories on this theme run from the horrific, full of blood and guts, to laugh-out-loud-funny. The characters run from Elvis and Hitler to a normal guy and gal making out at the beach. Before the premise becomes shopworn, Evil Puppies ends with a boom.
Michael Crane also has two flash fiction collections available. These are “drabbles,” a special form of flash fiction where each story is exactly 100 words. I won’t repeat here the reviews I’ve already posted to Amazon, but you can check them out if you’re curious. The first is Lessons (and other morbid drabbles), which has twenty of these flash fiction pieces. The sequel, Lessons II: Another Morbid Drabble Collection, has twenty-five more. Lessons III: A Bunch More Drabbles, is rumored to be in the works.
An additional draw of flash fiction for me is the craftsmanship. If you work with words in any context, you can’t help marveling at how the best of the genre packs so much information in such little space, not unlike the best song lyrics.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars