The New Death and others

Written by James Hutchings

Peel: Forty-four stories and nineteen poems are in this collection.

The content of this collection ranges from satire to horror to the fantastic, and many of the stories end with little twists. The author is unapologetically opinionated in matters of politics, religion, and morals but I didn’t find that off-putting. The first story that opens up the collection is one of all the gods picking dominions, but no one wants to be the God of the Poor. Throughout the collection, the author’s uniqueness and creativity becomes pretty apparent. There’s quite a bit of lovely dark whimsical poetry that tended to read like a song. The stories read rather honestly regardless of however fantastic they were. This collection could also be reread, and if in print, I’d say it’d make a lovely little coffee table book.

The collection wasn’t organized in any way which makes it easy to start reading at random, but not so great for reading larger chunks. Such jumps, like from an amusing little poem to heavy political matter, could have been avoided with sectioning. I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite from the collection, but I preferred the shorter clever pieces of flash fiction and poetry best. The longer stories were good, but they lacked the snappy humor that characterized the others.

Nibble: “It was strange, Fame thought, that Death was not more popular. She was so cheerful, and so fond of children.”

I would heavily recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys witty twisted works.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 dark Bramley apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

James Hutchings’s Site

Get the collection for 99 cents on Amazon

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The Trees: A Collection

By Todd Brabander

This is a collection of five quick stories- three shorts and two flashes. The stories were all easy to read, though a bit jumpy. All of the stories were very different from one another, fit a good amount of plot in their pages, and a few of them had surprising twists at the end. They each had unique bits of absurdity and horror in them. Sheltered was by far my favorite story of the collection, and the choppiness worked well for this story. The Trees in particular gave a vivid feel of forests in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately two of the stories, Laroche and The Trees, had predictable endings that took away from their building momentum. As a warning there is a touch of gore.

I would recommend these stories as a fun Sunday night read.

Nibble: “The robot felt something small give way under his foot.”

My Rating: 6 out of 10 fiery cursed apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Small Magic

By Aaron Polson

I am going to start this review off by saying how awesome flash fiction is, especially in a collection. It’s like a bag of sea salt and pepper chips, you really want to enjoy them individually and let the flavor seep in your mouth… but you’re a pig and devour the whole bag one afternoon.

That’s basically what reading Small Magic was to me- a wicked bag of chips. It’s a collection of a little over seventy quick pieces. All the chapters were interesting, and surprising in some way. My favorites tended to have a subtle layer of horror just peeking out through a dim window. There were also quite a few chapters with interesting ideas on relations and society. Most chapters are horror stories, mixed into that there’s some of magical realism, romance, crime, humor, fantasy and science fiction.

As a warning, there is quite a bit of gore- beautifully written though- that may be a little too much for those of delicate mind. He produces some really image-evoking dark connections, like watering a groove of trees with blood.

I would recommend this to anyone for some intense Halloween short stories.

My favorite stories: Inheritance, Communion, Blue Collar Boys, Man Bites Man, The Date, Crenshaw’s Gift

I was also pleasantly surprised to see an amusing metafiction story about writing horror stories. A nibble from that,¬†“No one likes to bleed in dark crimson rivulets of scarlet gore, and they will feel sympathy for Bob.”

My Rating: 9 out of 10 bloody scarlet apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.