“The INDIE ECLECTIVE: What is it, who are they, and why can they spell neither “eclectic” nor “collective” correctly? The Indie Eclective is an ensemble of NINE AUTHORS operating under the assumption that Readers like Good Books. Whether you enjoy light or dark paranormal, YA or adult-themed genres, there’s bound to be a story to suit your tastes. Thanks for reading!”
The Members: Heather Marie Adkins
M. Edward McNally
As you’ll have noted in my choices thus far here at the Irreverent Book Blog, my tastes are eclectic, such that the only unifying factor in all that I love is that very irreverence. So, when Emma Jameson, who is one of my very dear friends, was asked to join such a creatively named group, I was intrigued. Since its most recent release coincided with that most wonderful time of the year, the Hallowe’en season, it seemed a perfect choice to share with you. The Haunted Collection has a little something for everyone.
The stories are described for you thus:
“Empty Vessel” by M. Edward McNally: Captain Wil has command of his own ship, the respect of his crew, and his wife is expecting their first child. But at sea, the winds always become calm just before the storm breaks.
“The Smell of Death” by Tara West: Maggie’s unusual powers bring new threats to her already troubled childhood.
“Safe” by Emma Jameson: In Victorian London, a grave robber makes a nice living off the dead, until he opens the wrong crypt.
“Soulfully Sweet” by Shéa MacLeod: As if helping the living isn’t enough of a pain in her divine hindquarters, Branwen (former goddess of love and beauty) is stuck helping the dead on All Hallow’s Eve.
“May I Go Play?” by Heather Marie Adkins: Micah inherits a southern mansion where ancestors long dead relive their violent deaths. And now, they want company…
“Blehdward, the Vampire who Couldn’t Sparkle” by Pj Jones: Blehdward desperately wants to fit in with the cool vamps. If only he could learn how to sparkle.
“Franscesca” by Alan Nayes: Break a promise to a feiticeira and you will live to regret it.
“Soul Eaters” by R.G. Porter: Kaitlyn never believed in the existence of other worlds. Now she’s in the middle of one where humans aren’t the hunters but the hunted.”
These stories share a common “haunted” theme, but are each very different, as are the authors’ styles and voices. I enjoyed the combination very much, as it seemed to touch on almost everything I enjoy about being a reader. Two stories introduce us to other worlds, one to another time, and they all present spooky stories from a different angle than we may have previously examined them. I cannot choose a favorite from among the stories presented, as each has things to recommend it.
“Empty Vessel” manages to introduces us to a brand new (to me, at least) world clearly and in detail, which is a difficult thing to manage in a short story; it doesn’t lose the chills in that precision, either. “The Smell of Death” is poignant, and maintains my assertions that youthful protagonists do not a juvenile work create. “Safe” is a new twist on the grave-robbing theme we think we know, and creates characters as only this author can! “Soulfully Sweet” was just that, answering questions about life and death in an original and amusing way. “May I Go Play?” is an enjoyable take on the Southern Gothic. “Blehdward, the Vampire who Couldn’t Sparkle” was ridiculously funny; Twi-hards beware! “Francesca” provides an exotic locale to a truly original twist on witches and hauntings. “Soul Eaters” takes us to another dimension, not at all a pleasant place to be, and thankfully gets us back again! This collection as a whole was Heavenly on the Imaqulotta Scale!
Another review and a half? Is this turning into a thing?
Speaking of Emma Jameson, I must mention her “Lord and Lady Hetheridge” Series, which currently consists of Ice Blue and Blue Murder. First of all, let me say that prior to my friend writing one, I had never heard of the “Cosy” subgenre. My taste in mysteries runs much more toward “Thrillers”. However, whatever sort of mystery you like, these are excellent examples. I’ve gotten to observe these works in progress, and in their polished finished form. Whether you read an Emma Jameson or a Stephanie Abbot work, you’ll recognize a depth of character creation unequaled by many authors in many genres. Without the wandering back-stories of my beloved Stephen King, or the dozens of novels with which to fill in character that Sir Terry Pratchett has, Jameson summons living breathing people to the page. This seems effortless, and is a trademark of her work. It’s one of the reasons I count her among my favorite authors. The series is Heavenly, and only leaves us wanting more.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading the last two books in Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series. Since I’ve been gone a bit, I’m going to give you a review and a half. For the half, I am going to suggest that you read the series. Ms. Armstrong has a unique vision of the supernatural, and an enjoyable writing style. As there are thirteen novels in the series, and I’m actually intending to give you a full dose of my Irreverent thoughts on another subject, I’m not going to summarize the individual stories. However, you’ll meet beings familiar and unfamiliar, and discover a mythology different from any you may have read previously. These are serious books, not particularly lighthearted, and they manage to mention adult issues without focusing on them, or causing yours truly to roll her eyes. That puts Ms. Armstrong head and shoulders above others writing in the genre. I enjoy her, and I think you will, too.
Dystopia, despite being a scary place, is more familiar place to most humans than Utopia. The Matrix theorized that people would not accept Utopia as real. Don’t worry, I’m not about to talk about The Matrix. My point is simply that I accepted that idea rather easily. I tend to worry when things are going too well, waiting for the BOOM of disaster. With the preponderance and popularity of dystopian fiction, I suspect I am not alone. Most dystopian fiction is irreverent by its nature. We are taught from childhood that most people are basically decent, and for Dystopia to arise, they must not be. I’m a pessimist, but even if you happen to be an optimist, how many times are you actually shocked by the horrors going on around you? Disgusted, yes, but surprised? Not often. From my youthful readings of Anthem, and Fahrenheit 451, I have explored this genre most of my life. You’ve probably read a few dystopian novels yourself, if you enjoy the irreverent.
I recently discovered Wool, by Hugh Howey. I have only been lucky enough to read the first story in this series. I think when you are knocked off your feet by art, you should probably remember what led you to the spot, but I honestly don’t. Maybe I ran across a review, maybe it was suggested to me by Amazon, but whatever the agency, I’m grateful.
According to the blurb: “Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.
Or you’ll get what you wish for. “
I was very simply blown away by this piece. While the modern world of publishing may make the definition of length—short story vs. novella—increasingly irrelevant, 58 pages is a short work. I make this point to say that the density of the work surpasses many novels. Howey’s world simply closes in around you, a fully realized dystopian society. The people, and their desperation, are palpably real. Modern authors sometimes sacrifice detail from their word pictures in the interest of cutting the work to the bone, as the fashion is. They should take lessons from Howey. Not a word is wasted, but vivid imagery and characterization take shape nonetheless. The story hits like a punch in the gut. There are six more of them so far, and I can’t wait to read them. On the Imaqulotta Scale, I consider Wool to be Heavenly.