A few words on my favourites from this compilation -
Falling Over - Michelle has been replaced by something that looks like her, acts like her, but it's just not her. The story that lends its title to the entire collection starts things off with a homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The setting, an unnamed university/college during the holiday period, works well. There are only four characters and much of the action takes place within just a handful of rooms.
Haunted - A very short story, only a hundred words long, that riffs on the classic haunted house theme. I think I would probably describe it as more of a suggestion of a story than an entire story in its own right. I really like the premise of this and I can appreciate that technically this is clever writing, but I think I would have preferred this expanded upon.
New Boy - A middle manager in a large faceless company returns to work after a short absence. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, he finds he has some issues with a new employee. Anyone who has ever worked in an office will appreciate the elements that make up this tale.
The Man Dogs Hated - In this instance, the title says it all. This entry definitely falls into the weird category. More than a little surreal, but also, more than a little thought provoking. This is a story that's all about fitting in and what happens when someone just doesn't.
Sick Leave - A primary school teacher has been away from work due to illness. Things appear to have subtly changed while she has been away, but she can't figure out for the life of her how or why. Any story involving spooky children and nursery rhymes regarding bubonic plague is always going to be creepy. Childhood is always a fertile breeding ground for horror as this story manages to perfectly illustrate.
Drones - Every screen that a soldier looks at becomes a conduit for a mysterious force to wreak its revenge against him. The ending of this story has a wonderfully apocalyptic feel that kind of reminded me of the 2006 film Pulse. I think this was probably my favourite of the entire collection. I like the downbeat tone, the short fiction I connect with most always seems to have that quality. I always find at least one story in an anthology that I wish was a novel in its own right. Drones bears that particular distinction in this case.
After the main collection there are a couple of pages of notes that offer some nice additional insight into the creation of each story. I always appreciate extra content like this.
Overall I was impressed with this collection. I think there is something here for anyone who enjoys fiction in the short form. There are a couple of real gems that I enjoyed immensely. I'll be keeping an eye out for more from James in the future.
on 17 April 2014
James Everington's world is a strange place indeed. On the surface he inhabits the same planet as the rest of us but his stories say otherwise. The places and people contained in these pages are superficially human, humdrum, normal even but beneath that veneer of normality lies a darkness, a weirdness which taints and obscures everything.
Within the ten stories here are tales of death, war, doppelgangers and dreams all with a disconcerting air of menace. The plots of these dark tales are secondary to the characters, settings and in particular the mood the author creates. We go from tales of the tabloid's ability to create monsters in Public Interest Story to Fate, Destiny and a Fat Man From Arkansas which is tinged with Lovecraftian horror as a pair of hapless criminals attempt to avoid their fates. Stories about death in Sick Leave and The Time of Their Lives and the very peculiar and very good The Man Dogs Hated.
My favourites are New Boy and the titular Falling Over, both set in humdrum places, an office and a student flat but both filled with dark menace, paranoia and dislocation, reminiscent of Ligotti or Samuels, these are excellent additions to any Weird fiction library.
The title of this collection says it all really, these tales evoke that moment of loss of control, that feeling of otherness, a helpless abandonment as paranoia and confusion reign supreme, when life pushes too hard and we fall. In between the darkness there are some intelligent points made about subjects as diverse as war and tabloid power but these never stifle the stories, instead they add another layer to Everington's excellent writing.
This is a fine collection of Weird fiction for those who love their horror well written, intelligent and liminal.
on 17 November 2014
I would describe James Everington’s stories like a walk through the cemetery alone, and you turn around to ground fog that has come seemingly from nowhere, and you don’t know what it means, if anything at all, but you still sense something wrong about it. The stuff of classic horror.
The first story, “Falling Over,” which sets the tone of the book, is a fine example of the alien among us. The MC knows there is something different about a classmate, and pinpointing that difference may be even more frightening than not. The atmosphere in the story is incredibly convincing and the horror so subtle, it has already sank into you by the time you sense it.
“The Man Dogs Hated,” just bizarre and equally satisfying. “Sick Leave” is as creepy as it gets with the children in one teacher’s class overtaken by something dark and unnatural. “Drone,” is thrilling as it is unsettling, and masterfully depicts how one soldier deals with guilt and the inevitable that may be coming.
What each of these stories has in common, besides originality, literal goodness, and perfect endings, is how well they are executed. You never expect what is coming next, and the flow the stories, in all the fine details, are effortless to read, something all writers know is a true talent. I would recommend this collection to anyone and everyone.
on 19 August 2013
First off, I normally don't write reviews on Amazon, but this collection of short stories is so outstanding that I just had to write one. I first came across James' work, having read The Shelter. I then read The Other Room which was just as good.
As for Falling Over, I really appreciate the hard work that went into writing the individual stories. One of James' great strength is the creation of atmospheres that captivate (and stay with) the reader's imagination. And this takes a lot of work. On this note, one of my favourite stories in Falling Over is Sick Leave. I love how Emma's sickness merges with the gloomy weather, and how both the weather and her poor health form part of a greater mystery. Very elegantly constructed - a triumvirate of gloominess. Personally, perhaps because I've spent a long time in university myself, James' writing really excels in stories that deal with adolescence and college life. Falling Over in this volume and When the Walls Bend in The Other Room fall into this category, and are amongst my all time favourite short stories! I would love to see more of this in the future.
So in conclusion, keep up the great work James! I really had an excellent time reading Falling Over. And man, Sick Leave was really creepy. It'll stay with me for a long while, just like When the Walls Bend!
on 9 August 2014
A great collection of 'weird fiction'. I was looking forward to reading this book, having enjoyed James Everington's debut collection The Other Room.
In this book, each of the stories is very different yet all seem to revolve around the idea that things are not always as they seem.
All the stories are well written and absorbing. The author gets into the minds of the characters very well. The themes include, reality versus fantasy, dreams, paranoia, the power of the media, war. The tales are always unpredictable, and sometimes quite unexpected, but all will make you think and question the world around you.
Well worth a read.
on 8 January 2014
A great page turner from Britain's new master of terrifying tales. Everington's prose is heavy with a sense of forboding and terrors to come. If you like dark, twisted stories this is a must read.
on 5 December 2014
I must admit, I tend to stay away from short story collections as I prefer to escape into longer pieces but I made an exception with ‘Falling Over’ - and I’m so glad I did!
These stories are hugely atmospheric, rich with detail and suitably bleak. James’s prose is intelligent and his story telling will keep you guessing, speculating until the very end.
Some stories I enjoyed more than others but that’s always the case with collected works – all however, were exceptionally written and intriguing. ‘Sick Leave’ and ‘Public Interest Story’ were my personal favourites. Great stuff!
on 1 June 2014
Absolutely loved this collection of weird and quite Twilight-Zone little stories. Will definitely be buying more of James's fiction. A name to watch.
on 29 September 2015
A haunting collection of strange tales, each one offering a disturbing twist on reality. Unpredictable, vertiginous and compelling, they linger in memory, a fine example of uncanny storytelling. Of special interest is the final appendix which offers an insight into the evolution of each tale.