I'm not normally attracted to short story compilations, mainly because just about the time I'm getting into the story, it ends. Enjoyment interruptus... But Ben Langhinrichs is a long-time friend and someone whose writing has entertained me on a number of past occasions. When he asked me if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing Savage Fire, his first "book" (e-book, but still...), the answer was an enthusiastic "yes!". As I expected, Savage Fire is a excellent work, and it shows off Ben's incredible ability to write convincingly in a number of genres. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd think this had to be the work of more than one writer.
There are 16 short stories in Savage Fire that quickly draw you in and take you in unusual directions. What you notice right off is that the themes and genres are varied and range from Victorian zombies to crime noire, from modern-day mythology to the supernatural. But this isn't a case of a writer throwing a number of stories in a book, hoping that a few of them will carry the rest. Ben's sense of setting, mood, and dialogue are dead-on (yeah, there's a bit of an intended pun there), and each story had me appreciating Ben's skill when it comes to putting words to paper.
It's hard to pick a favorite, as each story has a twist or angle that made me think or laugh at the setting or situation. If Not Mistaken definitely ranked high, as the cases of mistaken identities, graphic deaths, and uninhibited actions left me wondering if it could get any more bizarre... and then it did... repeatedly. In fact, I had to laugh a bit at some of the stories due to a conversation I had with Ben at a conference. He mentioned a few of the writing exercises he had done as part of a writing group, involving writing a short story with unusual genre combinations. One specific one he mentioned was very unusual (to say the least), but he was able to pull it off here without a problem. It does leave me wondering, however... should I be impressed or very, very worried about him? :)
Not that I would have expected anything different, but I'll be one of the first in line to buy and read any future works that Ben publishes. Savage Fire is an excellent debut by a talented writer, and I look forward to see where his writing will take him.
Obtained From: Amazon