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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Everblossom

Larissa Hinton

Everblossom is an anthology going through three life stages. Everblossom starts off with a heavy claim in its blurb that it is ”An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.” Naturally, this is a very difficult claim to follow up on, and unfortunately I don’t think this anthology delivered. In fact, it did the opposite with many of the stories and poems being good because they were so ordinary and slice-of-life like. Hinton’s strength was the honesty in which she delivered the stories, and the ones that came off more-so were the more cliche and ordinary stories. Hinton plays with language and sound throughout her pieces, which make them sound far more interesting aloud than on paper. Hinton also has some vivid images in a few of her stories that stick with you.┬áThe tone of this anthology came across as bitter which was an interesting contrast in the first two stages- seed and bud- as both are usually looked back upon with a certain rosy hue of innocence. For example, there’s a poem on childhood that’s with a child’s vocabulary but clearly written with an adult’s voice.

In general I felt like Hinton’s style would be much better suited to longer novellas or novels. In many of her short stories there seemed to be either plot or an interesting character or an interesting idea, rather than all three. I felt like the entire work was very heavy handed, and often the ending was already blatant and stating the idea directly again took away from the feel of the piece. An example of this was in a story Changes, with the last two paragraphs. A few of her pieces do touch on deeper issues, but not to the extent that I was hoping for.

I would not completely write her off though, as she does have some novellas(ex. Iwishacana) coming up that I could see being well polished and combining all the positives from this work.

Nibble: “One of the teachers throws him a spoonful of pity in a steaming bowl of no help at all.”

My Rating: 2 out of 10 typical red apples

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