Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Short story
Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
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This short story collection is the result of a contest held by Red Adept Reviews. The only requirement was that each story had to have a “twist or surprise” at the end.
A panel of three judges picked the winner based on “the potency of the twist and the writing style.” Seven winners were selected (first through fourth place, plus three honorable mentions). The featured authors are a diverse selection of indie and small press authors, many of whom have novels or short stories available for your Kindle or other eReader. Looking at our large backlog of books for review, I can safely predict you’ll be hearing more about many of them here in the future. Additionally, author C.S. Marks, who was one of the contest sponsors, provided a story for the collection, as did Lynn “Red Adept” O’Dell.
Here are the story titles, authors, and brief descriptions of each:
Building God by Jessica Billings: A machine predicts the future of mankind.
Should Have Seen It Coming by Brendan Carroll: A man's wife leaves him unexpectedly.
Granny Theft Auto by T.L. Haddix: A klepto-grandma steals a police car.
The Unbroken Mirror by C.S. Marks: A prelude to the Alterra series
Fired by Lynn O’Dell: Getting fired has its repercussions.
42jorie by John Philpin: A man meets a special woman online.
Leo’s Wife by Patrica Sierra: A bigamist’s wife is confronted after his death.
Traditions by Michael Sullivan: A young girl embarks on a journey to fight a dragon.
A Long, Lonely Time by J.R. Tomlin: A woman finds a very special door in her attic.
Short story anthologies are problematic for a reviewer. Some choose to break the collection down into the component parts, and do a mini-review of each individual story. Given my analytical bent, I’m surprised I didn’t take this approach. Instead, the process I’ve fallen into is the same way I used to review music – reviewing the entire work rather than the pieces. I’ll focus on some of the specifics as examples, but for the majority of the review, look for the overriding or unifying theme.
As you should expect from a collection put together by skimming the cream from a large number of contenders, the stories here are consistently good. They cover many genres: Speculative fiction, mystery, fantasy, horror, and contemporary fiction. The surprise endings make them all entertaining as the master storytellers set you up and then throw a curve, catching you off guard.
If forced to pick favorites among these stories I’d choose three. Building God for the questions it raises about free will, religion, and science. 42jorie, because of its exploration of the interaction between cyberspace and the real world, is one I find both entertaining and timely. Last, Granny Theft Auto, which I think says something interesting about humans, both the way we think and the strange ways we have of getting from point A to point B. The fact that my personal favorites are not the top three as chosen by the judges shows what a strong collection this is and how small the difference in quality from story to story. They’re all winners.
For those not previously familiar with Red Adept Reviews, now would be a good time to visit and explore.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five stars