December 08, 2019

Dawn Vogel (Editor) et al.: "I Didn't Break the Lamp - Historical Accounts of Imaginary Acquaintances"

Title: I Didn't Break the Lamp: Historical Accounts of Imaginary Acquaintances [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Dawn Vogel (Editor) [Site | Goodreads] et al.
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2019
Age: 18+ (there's a story with explicit sex on page)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Original, often unexpected, sometimes emotive spins on the imaginary friend trope.
Cons: A handful of the stories are a little harder than others to get into, or (in one instance) anticlimactic.
Will appeal to: Those who like to get surprised. Those who never really outgrew their imaginary friends and never will.

Blurb: Are they in our imagination, or are we in theirs? Mad Scientist Journal has brought together twenty-six tales of people with uncertain existence. These accounts range from cheerful to dark, stopping off at frequent points between. Imaginary friends share space with witches, monsters, nightmares, and maybe a few things that have not yet been dreamed. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have known Troy H. Gardner (one of the authors of this anthology) for 5 years and a half now, and I have both reviewed his collaborative books with Erin Callahan (another friend of my blog) and beta-read for him. I swear, though, that I'm going to be as honest about this book as I usual strive to be in my reviews. Also, he's only one of the many, talented names featured in here, none of which I'm tied to in any way.
Note: when we think of imaginary friends, we automatically think about children, early teens at best. In this anthology, people of all ages deal with their imaginary friends, and if a couple of the youngsters end up outgrowing theirs, most have gotten old in their company, or haven't necessarily stop believing in them altogether. Also because it turns out that these imaginary friends are *big shock* as real as they come.


While I was going through these stories and taking notes for each of them, the most recurring word was "original". There are a few unforeseen creatures among the imaginary friends in this book (like a female devil and a dead goddess...and even a couple of A.I.s/computer interfaces), and a few "hybrid" ones (like ghosts - or sort of - and faeries), not to mention that some of them don't engage with their human in the way you would expect - but the real treat was that most of these tales were able to take me by surprise (When I Helped for the win!). Another interesting facet of this collection is that it occasionally manages to double as ethical narrative (End User Agreement, Fortress of Ash and Bone), ecofiction (Jack in the Matchbox, The Voice), even humorous analysis of poly/gay dating (See Me, Seen), and on top of that, to include neurodivergent characters (The Tutor, End User Agreement again). But even when they have us pondering, these stories never fail to entertain and bring us to unexpected places, plus melt a little piece of our heart here and there. [...]


Just to give you an idea of what you're getting into, here's a look at some of the most original tales in this collection:

  • Duality: what if imaginary friends came in pairs? Also, apparently, there are complex rules (but rewards as well) when you have two of them...
  • A Lost and Lonely Fire: brilliant twist on the writer as creator, that piles up reveal after reveal and even adds a potentially ridiculous, but in fact creative and spooky, "bad guy";
  • When I Helped: I can't literally say anything because SPOILERS, but this is the most unique story in this anthology, and a bittersweet one at that (but more on the sweet side), with the most unexpected of twists;
  • Touch the Earth: what if even a city could be imaginary? like a shared projection superimposed to the real, bleak reality?
  • Fortress of Ash and Bone: this one starts as a classic dystopian and ultimately turns on its head, revealing an even sadder, touching reality; 
  • Of Rorschach Words and Little White Shoes: a tale of childhood's end, poetic and (again) bittersweet.

But as a matter of fact, there's hardly a story in here that doesn't put a spin on the imaginary friend trope or doesn't challenge (or at least hits) the reader in some way. Some are a bit more classic in nature, some futuristic, some funny, some sad, most of them engaging. Even if, like me, you usually have a hard time getting invested in anthologies, don't be afraid to give this one a try - there's a lot to like for all kinds of readers.

For more Adult books click here.


  1. This sounds really creepy... but also kinda intriguing! I have definitely never heard of a book like this before!

  2. I do struggle with anthologies but this sounds really cool!

    And I want to steal the term - ethical narrative. I could have used that for a book I was reading/reviewing the other day. lol

    Karen @ For What It's worth

    1. Same with me - short stories are not really my medium, but there were a number of unusual, intriguing ones in this collection that held my interest.

      Haha, you have my permission to steal!

  3. What interesting concept incorporating people's imaginary friends into a multitude of tales. Though anthologies are hit or miss for me, the format allows one book to tackle so many different issues without overload. Those small bites can often be very satisfying too.

    1. As a rule, I'm not the biggest fan of anthologies either - there's something in short stories that rarely leaves me satisfied. But now and then I take a chance on a collection, and I happen to find some hidden gem like this one! Some of these stories work exactly because they're short and sweet, and pack a punch in a few pages.

  4. Well this is new! You've definitely piqued my interest.

  5. I love how diverse this sounds. And I'm really liking anthologies these days, even though I don't read that many- but i like the variety they offer.

    1. If you like anthologies, go for it! If someone like me, for whom they don't always work, gives one of them 4 stars, I suppose you're safe LOL.

  6. I love the cover and the concept for this book! I'm not usually a fan of anthologies, but I can see myself reading this one slowly with the monsters.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ☃💬

    1. I wouldn't say this is a suitable read for your monsters...most of the stories are complex, and a couple (one in particular) are definitely adult in nature. But you might like it!


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