October 16, 2021

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #26 Malcolm Devlin, Jennifer Brozek et al., Elliot Arthur Cross & Joshua Winning


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version 😉. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

★★★

Rated 3.5 really.

A bunch of characters - some related, some not - live seemingly ordinary or (mostly) peculiar lives in multiple universes, while husband and father Prentis O'Rourke dies in every single one of them.

***

First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title from the publisher for review purposes. Thanks to Unsung Stories for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

Based on the blurb, I expected these stories to be more strictly intertwined (which is the extra ingredient when it comes to my loving an anthology), and Prentis' death - or better, extinction - to play a bigger role in them. Also, there were a couple of stories that left me puzzled (Finisterre and The Knowledge, I'm looking at you). However, I did appreciate their quirkiness, their (sometimes subtle) references to one another, and the way they formed a multifaceted prism were each reality had only so much in common with the others. Despite the sci-fi premise and the (sometimes wildly) speculative outlook, these tales have an all-too human quality that will easily appeal to contemporary/magical realism fans. This being said, Five Conversations with my Daughter (Who Travels in Time) (a heartbreaking insight into the laws of, well, time travel) and The New Man (an absolutely original take on clonation...with a twist) were easily my favourite.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

Human Tales by Jennifer Brozek et al.

★★

What if, for creatures as fae, sphinxes and dwarfs, humans were the real monsters to be afraid of?

***

I wanted to read this collection because it includes a story by Seanan McGuire (I only liked it, didn't love it, but it's got SPHINXES! though wait, they practice incest?!?!?), plus it sounded like a cool concept, but I ultimately DNF it early on. This doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the stories that I have read (or skimmed), but it's due to the book's settings and the creatures involved being a lot more rooted in "classic fantasy" than I expected (plenty of fae, changelings, kingdoms, you know the drill) and boring the hell out of me. If that's your jam, though, I encourage you to read this anthology for its uniqueness alone. I mean, the "human are the real monsters" concept may not be spanking new, but a trope reversal is always fun!

Note: definitive review (I don't have enough to say to justify writing a full-length one later, and of course I don't plan to reread this book; also, due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

Camp Carnage by Elliot Arthur Cross & Joshua Winning

★★★

A group of queer teens at a conversion camp are the target of an unknown killer. Will they make it out of there alive? And will they manage to hold on to their queerness until the end?

***

Classic slasher story that offers a couple of fresh twists with regards to the setting and the final girl trope. I wish that some characters had been fleshed out more and some others had gotten more closure, plus there's a scene that deceived me into thinking the book would cross over to the supernatural side, though it probably wasn't meant to be read that way. Still (bloody) entertaining and queer-reaffirming, and even if at first I considered the person who ended up being the killer a possible candidate for the role, I almost immediately dismissed them, so I guess I got successfully fooled 😉 (then again, we were missing a fundamental piece of evidence in order to point our fingers at them).

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

So, have you read/are you planning to read any of the above? And if you have, what do you think of them? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like to read them?

14 comments:

  1. Human Tales- bummer about the DNF. Sphinxes and incest- wha???? lol

    That last one though pretty decent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I know! The incest thing threw me for a loop.

      Camp Carnage is a classic slasher with a twist - I'm sure fans of the genre will appreciate it more than me.

      Delete
  2. I agree with you about anthologies. My biggest success stories were when the tales were woven together, like Feral Youth or Ancestor Approved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly - short stories most of the times leave me wanting more if they're not part of a larger universe.

      Delete
  3. Human Tales does sound like it would be an interesting read, sorry you didn't like it more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not really my genre - other than that, I'm sure it's perfectly fine.

      Delete
  4. Sounds like none of these were perfect for you, but it's nice to be able to sum up your thoughts in these mini-reviews!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a perfect fit, but N°1 was really good and N°3 would probably suit a slasher lover better than it did me 🙂.

      Delete
  5. I definitely relate to being bored by "classic fantasy." I don't blame you at all for DNF'ing, I probably would have done the exact same thing, as I have had to do with many fantasy books. I'm still not over The Hobbit, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, at least you did try to get interested in it...I passed LOL.

      Delete
  6. Short is awesome, I love them all ;)
    Have not read these

    ReplyDelete
  7. I mean... ancient Egyptian pharoahs practiced incest (King Tut was married to his sister,) so, it's not that big of a leap? Not defending it, just saying that I'm not gonna pick a fight with something that could eat me! Lol. (Plus, when you've read as much fanfiction as I have... there are things I can't unsee!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right...I guess I knew but I forgot? It sounds like a totally reasonable explanation 😄. Thanks!

      Delete

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