Book Review: Light/Dark Short Stories

As I’m starting my vacation I have time and hopefully there will be at least 2 more posts in the next week or so Smile For now my thoughts on a collection of short stories put together by a local publisher, Engen Books.

light_dark

Details from Amazon:

 

Book Description

Publication Date: April 21, 2012

Eight short stories from Engen Books’ top talent in storytelling. Featuring the stories Revving Engen, Reptilia, Theogony, Gristle while you Work, You have the Touch, Scarlett, Remers, and Omega; this collection is guaranteed to excite and entertain!


Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Engen Books (April 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926903064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926903064
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Initial Thoughts:

As any reader of this blog knows I am quite a fan of short stories. I like how they are episodic and often complete by themselves. I like the little feeling of accomplishment when you finish reading one and perhaps more relevant to this post I like the collections that Engen has done so far (see their website for the other two). So while I was at a convention last year (yeah I’m that slow) I picked one up as an even trade for my book.

Main Points:

The quality of these stories are good and I like the simple cover design with the contrasting black and white colors. As with their other collections I find though that there is a lack of proper editing. It’s not terrible but it gets annoying when I know that on every second or third page their will be a mistake. Simple stuff like writing “and” when it should be “end”, things that an editor should have picked up. I said it before and I’ll say it again, grammatical mistakes take the reader out of the story and this is what I found to be the case here.

Because I got the time (and I roll like that) I will make comments on each story (briefly Winking smile) however.

The Theogony,by Matt LeDrew. I enjoyed this story though I did find the whole tablet power/idea confusing at first. I suppose before I go on I should say…

SPOILER ALERT!

Okay so at the end of this story we are never sure if the patient ever met this woman or if he ever even left the facility, I like this sense of uncertainty and I enjoyed how it is complete in itself. LeDrew is very good at describing scenes and he does a good job with characters.

Gristle While you work by Jay Paulin, very good! Open-mouthed smile A nice twist for this average woman who helps out her brother turns out to be a monster that eats people whole. My only complaint is the end, why did she eat her brother? He is one of her only family members left (her parent’s died) and it just didn’t make sense to me. This story could have used some more meat on the bones (and yes that’s pun intended Winking smile)

Scarlett by Andrea Edwards, excellent story! One of my my very favourites of the collection. I loved how this is a more adult Buffy-type story and it left plenty of room for a sequel. I also like the fact that she’s not afraid to kill characters and show the emotional effects of a horrible event, it’s more realistic to human nature and I look forward to reading more from Andrea in the future.

Reptilia by Matt Ledrew, really good one Smile. Very visceral, lots of excitement and just the right amount of gore for my tastes. What I didn’t like was the ending and how the virus spread. One of the characters even tries to figure it out (how it jumped to a driver who had no contact with the infected blood) and is killed before he can reach any answer. Then the team who shows up and knows that it was all a test (for a government weapon) ends up being killed as well! It was certainly a surprise but for me not a welcome one and I just didn’t feel it made any sense.

Omega by Ellen Curtis, excellent story. I really enjoyed all the medical details and the conspiracy theory. The fact that the main characters secretly plan to take down the institution and break their friend out was a fitting ending.

Remers by Sarah Thompson, an ok story. I always liked the Six-Million Dollar Man/Robocop idea (though the latter movies turn to complete garbage) and the cyborgs in this story are described well and it’s an exciting story, for the most part. The problem with this (and it’s something I’ve discovered with other short-stories) is that it goes on too long. That and I didn’t like how everything just works out for Chase, he lives, gets these super enhancements, is instantly the best member of the team and even gets his girlfriend back at the end. This may make me sound a little depressing but it was just too tidy, I guess I’m not a big fan of fairy tale type ending.

Reviving Engen by Matt LeDrew. This was an odd story, there is something strange going on with the main character, he’s attacked, saved and by the end will still have no idea. While the atmosphere, imagery and characters are well done I just never got into the story, this is one of the weaker ones of the collection.

You have the Touch by Larry Gent. An excellent story, a lot of fun, a great character, lots of pop culture and geeky references, some clever use of images and some good humour surprises. My favourite of the collection. Hot smile

Final Thoughts:

I will certainly purchase Light/Dark 2 (or whatever it’s called) but I do hope they get a better editor and wider selection of authors (having Matt write 3 stories when it’s HIS company does seem like he’s tooting his own horn at least a little bit). I would give this an 8 out of 10 but the editing mistakes and other concerns make me put it down to a 6 Thumbs up. I do recommend this with some trepidation and would probably tell a reader to skip the Engen and Remers stories completely.

Until next time I am as always…

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