Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘short story’

Midwife Murder Mystery

Death Of A Sad Face  (A Serafina Florio Short Mystery)
by Susan Russo Anderson. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51oL7gL-3fLShe’s gotta knack. A real knack for wonderful writing. In Death Of A Sad Face, Ms. Russo Anderson takes readers’ to the end of the eighteenth century, to a small town called Oltramari (on the coast of Sicily), where we meet midwife, and sleuth, Serafina Florio. Serafina is a mother of six children, and an orphaned 10-year-old child (Teo). Teo’s sudden disappearance the previous night, may have some connection to the murder of Cecco, the butler for Barron Ignazio Lanza, and his very pregnant wife Lucia.

While investigating who killed Cecco, and Teo’s whereabouts, Serafina comforts Mrs. Lanza, gets gossip from her lifelong friend (Rosa), and questions how much she really understands her own family. “Of all her children, Maria was the most puzzling, not at all like her siblings. She had adult responses to most situations and was concerned only with her piano. Seemingly unaware of her talent, she was kind, humble, gracious – or was Serafina blind? As her daughter stood before her, Serafina realized that she could cajole or insist, but in the end if Maria didn’t want to do what her mother suggested, Serafina had little recourse. She could solve most murders and already knew who had killed Cecco and why and where to find him. But her children? They were difficult. She felt helpless.”

One of the highlights of this story, is how intricately the characters interact, and know one another. A small town has its advantages, and disadvantages, as does a large family. Serafina doesn’t just go off by herself to track down Cecco’s killer, but gets information from various village members, the head of the local orphanage, and enlists her own family in catching the culprit. Even though she is a midwife, and amateur detective, Ms. Florio doesn’t see herself as special, just good at what she does. The author (Susan Russo Anderson) of Death Of A Sad Face is similar to Serafina – she’s good at what she does.  

Sink Your Teeth Into This

51KySxGKVOLLiving in The Moment by Bea Cannon.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Did you know that there’s a little town near Charlotte North Carolina called Matthews, whose inhabitants include werewolves, vampires, ghouls, and witches? Well, now you know. Not everybody does. Cadence (Cady) and her husband (Sam) have never told his parents that they are werewolves, and there daughter (Annamae) knows to keep their secret quiet, as do most of their neighbors.

Living in The Moment gives Cady a chance to practice her southern hospitality with Sam’s stuck up parents, brother, and sister-in-law, when they unexpectedly show up for a visit one night. It’s been ten years since they spoke to them. When you read this succulent story, by Ms. Cannon, you’ll find out why they’ve been estranged for so long. Here’s an excerpt of what Cady was thinking when Sam’s parents suddenly arrived.

“Oooo… you’re in his domain, now Mr. Papa-man. Wit’ yo suitcases on his porch and nowheres else to go. Whatcha gonna do? Still dis his wife and kid? Hugh? I know I shouldn’t feel like this… so sue me. That’s the cleanest thing I could think at the moment. You don’t wanna hear what else I was thinking. I kind of figured though, that they’d whip out their cells, get that taxi to come back, and quit darkening our door.”

This story is a five star howl. The dialogue is first class, and the author almost makes one believe that there is such a town, and beings, living next to humans without our knowledge. It includes a crisis with ghouls and some bad vampires (there are good ones too). There’s also a sort of “coming out” party for some unexpected guests. Living in The Moment, by Bea Cannon, is a story you can really sink your teeth into.

Ira Smiled

41OhZONgcvLIt Started With a Cup of Coffee by Sudesna Ghosh.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Ira is a writer. She writes in a cafe in Kolkata. If you are a writer (or reader) you’ll relate to her and It Started With a Cup of Coffee. What starts out as work, becomes personal. What becomes personal, becomes fodder for fiction. Here’s a brief excerpt from this intimate short story.

“One bite into the cherry red cream cupcake got her started. ‘God, this tastes like heaven,’ Ira smiled. Ira rarely smiled unless she felt obligated to. Or if she met a dog or a cat. The cupcake was special. What she didn’t notice was that she was smiling at the person sitting across from her – the gentleman with nice eyes and lashes. Uh oh.”

Though Ira is writing a romance in her favorite coffee shop, which is due to her editor (Lisa) within a month’s time, she’s not feeling very romantic. Trying to listen in on couple’s conversations at other tables helps a little, but isn’t always possible. Perhaps the main character in Ira’s story is herself.

Ms. Ghosh’s It Started With a Cup of Coffee is a relatable tale, especially if you see yourself as a scribe, and well worth a few rounds of caffeinated inspiration.

In Front of His Eyes

41Dgm0NQNALMane of Redemption by Aaron D. Brinker.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Good and bad. Right and wrong. Angel and fallen angel. Jesus and the devil. The contrasts in Mane of Redemption are clearly defined, as are the main characters (Jude and Adam). This short story, by Mr. Brinker, sees evil for what it is, and leaves the door open for change and redemption. It’s also about the choices we make and the resulting consequences.

Adam is confronted with choosing whether to keep his promises or have a change of heart and have his life upended. “Adams mind started spinning. He thought of what kind of torture and punishment Lucius had in store for him to witness. He couldn’t bare anything happening to Jess or the kids, let alone it happening in front of his eyes and knowing he could have prevented it.”

Both Jude and Adam are given special powers to assist their respective angels, and able to change into powerful creatures. They both relish the power, but must practice to have their new identities become fully manifested. A number of questions in Mane of Redemption are left open until the ending scenes, when it becomes clear who must fight whom, and what the victory will cost.

 

An Exquisite Essence

51YvQiYIkfLProspect Hill: A Romantic Short Story by Bibiana Krall. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

I could write a short story about this exquisite short story, but for brevity, simply say that Prospect Hill is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. I’m not sure if there are enough accolades for this occasion, but here are a few. The prose is not only fitting, and well-crafted, but also languid and lyrical, with a sense of poetry in motion. Though its intention is not erotic, it feels very sensual. The words drift through space and hit the heart like a lonely spirit.

Merely is a bodiless spirit, who is imprisoned in a cask by a witch, and falls in love with a human named Nino, when she is released. Her original name was Ayanna Dovet Blackwell, who was buried alive. Here is a glimpse of Ms. Krall’s writing. I hovered like a dragonfly next to my Nino, wishing to offer comfort. Then from the shifting melancholy of my imprisonment, I was called to sing once more. Murmurs of life and light, golden moments that remain hidden away from a place like this.”

The tale moves between the seen and unseen world with ease. Everything is real, and can be sensed, or felt, by the disembodied and the bodied. Their mutual awareness makes Nino feel uneasy and scared, and Nino’s presence creates long forgotten memories, and sensations in Merely. This interaction, and of others that enter and leave, are all told brilliantly from Merely’s perspective and experience. Though she cannot be seen by those living, she herself feels liberated and renewed.

There is subtle beauty and grace in the language, thoughts and feelings that overtake Merely, and they are described with great eloquence. If you have not yet absorbed, or understood, my adulation for Ms. Krall’s Prospect Hill, the following lines will surely take you over the edge. “Essence of night Jasmine, tea rose and salt escaped from my brilliant spiral. With one last desire my hands reached across time. Caressing Nino’s cheek lovingly from the other side, my fingertips dissolved into raindrops and fell away.”

 

Love, Loss, and Justice

41qJDuxS8fLAn Experiment In Emotions – A Short Story Collection by P.A. Priddey. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Love, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, jealousy, pleasure, helplessness, and rage. These are some of the feelings explored in An Experiment In Emotions, and an inkling of what readers’ may experience while reading these short stories. For the most part, these tales delve into relationships between men and women, and the misunderstandings that often occur. All, except one, involve couples breaking up, being torn apart, and/or finding a way to get back together. They are well written, and worth your time.

The collection includes a three parter, “The Dark Secret of Padwell”, which involves a strange “ritual” that is accepted by most people in the town, until Jack decides not to play by the rules, and refuses to marry Becky. In the beginning, the story reminded me of the film Indecent Proposal, with Robert Redford, when he offers a young couple a million dollars if he can sleep with the wife just one night, but it changes in the second act and takes on a much more sinister vibe. There are ten stories within this collection. My favorite was “The Vigilante, the Author, and Niblit”.

The Vigilante… had some nice touches, with the vigilante (Katie), Niblit (the cat), and Nick (the author), all coming into contact one night by chance, and sharing a secret that brings unwanted public attention, and the police, to their doors. Perhaps it is because the stories main characters include the author and a cat – one of which I am, and the other which I love – that toyed with my heart strings and made me partial to its telling. Without giving anything away, let me say that one of the three protagonists is actually a matchmaker in disguise, of which there are a number (disguises that is).

The next to last story in An Experiment in Emotions is called “The Monster”, and is one of the most unexpected. What is unexpected is who ends up helping whom, and how there motives and incentives change along the way. Stacy is pregnant, and her abusive husband, Carl, wants her to get rid of it. In the process, Stacy meets Jade Jones, and everything is turned upside down. For the first time in many years, Stacy begins to believe that she has choice, and experiences hope and acceptance. Though Mr. Priddey may not have experienced everything in this story, or the others in this collection, he definitely identifies with, and conveys, the emotions with insight and passion.

Afflicted With Vision

41GnYDgDNIL._SY346_Twisted by Uvi Poznansky
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Six tales told with words and pictures. The first being I Am What I Am, which follows Job’s wife after death to hell and a very interesting discussion with the devil. Other Twisted stories include a woman opening her diary for the first time since her husband’s death (The Hollow); a slab of clay speaking about her creator (sculptress) and her awareness of herself and the creator’s other work (I, Woman); a poem with “He” and “She” speaking to one another poetically (Dust); two photos of clay sculpted dancers, called The Art of Dust I and The Art of Dust II; and the final short with a cat talking to their caretaker, as if she understands what she is saying (The One Who Never Leaves).

Other than the beginning of the first story, none of these writings are really horrific, or in the horror genre, but instead exude a sense of realism, and fantasy, with inanimate objects becoming the main characters, and/or people, and pets, speaking from uncommon perspectives. The author’s writing is very accomplished and precise. Questions, dialogue, inferences, fears, hopes, and dreams, are presented with clarity, and complex situations, emotions and/or issues, are understandable. For example, these words from clay that is becoming aware of itself and surrounds, “For now that I am afflicted with vision, I appreciate how obscure things really are. The sharper the perception – the more complex the interpretation.”

Ms. Poznansky is a master storyteller, and artist, who is able to combine insight, nuance, place, and time, with abstract ideas, situations, and characters. To say her stories are “one of a kind” would be a disservice, as they are really “one of no other kind”. Twisted is unique, yet strangely approachable and identifiable, even though the context may be within a setting unknown, or not previously pictured, by the reader. I was somewhat wary of this collection, believing it might be filled with esoteric, or philosophical ramblings. Much to my surprise, and benefit, I was instead taken inside the creative mind of a brilliant author, and sculptor, of beautifully twisted views of the self, others, and the world within which we live.

 

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