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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars but the poem is, 3 Jun 2008
This review is from: Not All of Them about Zombies (Paperback)
A collection of short stories from a writer who states in the foreword he hopes this collection will open a few doors for him and get some attention from publishers. And on the basis of this collection we can but hope his plan works because there's some very promising material in here. It's a pretty diverse mix of fantasy horror and science fiction and crime, and the author's voice is quite individual. He manages to find a different style for each story that is all his own.

The book runs for just under two hundred pages. It begins with a preface, mentioning the above, and then an introduction that gives a look at all the stories and what they're about and how he came up with the ideas. This is very interesting stuff, although you may prefer to read it after the stories so that you can come to them afresh. The preface does give you ample warning and opportunity to do this if you should so desire.

After that come ten stories, one short poem, and a brief afterword.

The stories are as follows:

`Selling Liberty'. Running for twenty pages, a fantasy story telling about a young girl heading off to sell a prized possession who runs into trouble. Can she depend on the kindness of strangers?
Not a story I can say too much about without giving things away but it manages some good twists and developments and you may not see the end coming. Worthy of Roald Dahl.

`The happily ever after' is twelve pages long and is a sequel to the story of little red riding hood, telling what the main character did next. Written in the style of an old fashioned fairy tale, this succeeds rather well. The preface promises the possibility of more like this. I wouldn't mind to read them.

`Au Naturale' is a ten page story of a man who meets his dream woman in a future world where everyone artificially enhances their body. Written as a very intimate scene between the two this is a good stab at writing such things and it succeeds quite well. And it does have a delicious twist ending.

`Just a fluke' is over double the length of the above and a story about a man who wakes up in a woman's body. As a result of an alien influence. As he experiences and gets used to life in this form he forgets the alien has it's own agenda. This is quite a bold experiment in the writing style and it works well. The end took a while to sink in with me, but it works fine in hindsight. And just like the above, this story contains adult situations and adult language.

Following this is `Zombies' the one thing in the collection that is about them. A very very short poem. It's not going to win any literary awards, but it's fun for what it is.

After that comes `Breakdown' a ten page horror story involving a man driving through fog on his way to a scene of horror. And that ends up being the least of his worries. As a recreation of what it's like to go through this kind of weather it's very good. The end of the story does rather come out of nowhere, and perhaps it would work better if it was part of a collection of similar tales as promised in the preface. But all in all it's not a bad piece of work.

`Guardian' is another ten page effort, slipping back into the fantasy genre. In that you can occasionally find characters getting to ancient tombs or monuments only to discover beings who have devoted their life to guarding the place. What must it be like, the story asks, to be such a guardian? Written entirely from the perspective of one this is a good character piece and an enjoyable little tale.

`Harry' runs for roughly twenty pages and tells of a man battling a werewolf. But is his battle all in the mind? A deeply psychological tale and one that takes a little while to sink in afterwards, but it's a clever idea and a bold effort.

`Don't fear the Reaper' is roughly six pages long and a short tale about a murderer and his victim. The former is seeking something. But can the latter give it to him? A little gruesome but a good ending, although not quite as memorable in that respect as selling liberty or au naturale.

`Good Intentions' is a ten page story that comes from the crime genre, telling of a would be arsonist. And a choice he has to make. An excellent character piece well describing how the main character got into this situation, and a superb moral dilemma at the heart of this. Not one you will forget the end of in a hurry. Very good stuff.

Then comes `Redbird and Eleanor' a thirty page fantasy story about a lady trader in a fantasy setting who ends up with a travelling companion she'd not planned on. At first this looks like being rather generic fantasy, but it does manage to stand out because the main characters do become rather compelling. Eleanor a bit more so than Redbird, but if we get the further tales of the characters promised by the preface then I'm sure that won't be a problem. Eleanor is not entirely the most likeable of characters but she's still quite compelling, and that's no mean feat writing wise.

And the book concludes with a short `farewell' note that will make you chuckle.

So all in all, a pretty good collection, and a promising piece of work. I hope that it does lead to more.
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Paul Tapner

Location: poole dorset england

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