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Bait and Other Stories by [Arnold, Joel]
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Bait and Other Stories Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 151 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 465 KB
  • Print Length: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Studio City; 1 edition (April 30, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 30, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003K16OHO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,480 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
(Let me `splain: I made an offer recently on a discussion board to spend the month of May reviewing authors that hang out around them there parts. I told folks that, in this case, I would need their consent since my reviews would be absolutely honest. I didn't want anyone to be blind-sided or to feel they're being picked on since I like hanging out on that board, but I need to be honest too. I also made it clear I would purchase my own copies to further distance myself from people I do know casually. I'm hoping to promote some new authors, particularly while big name pubs duke it out over e-books, but I won't do that at the expense of honesty. My first obligation and responsibility when I review remains is to the readers.)

This is the second book I picked during this offer where I found out after I started reading that the author is a Minnesotan. I'll add this to my other talents of dubious worth. Most of the stories in this anthology have been published elsewhere first and it shows in how few errors I found. Off hand, I recall the use of "heal" when "heel" would have been the way to go in a story called Scorched Earth, but the prose was tight and professional quality.

The description reads, in part:
...the febrile imagination of Joel Arnold will keep you up long into the night with over 50k words of horror, suspense, and mystery. Includes the award winning stories 'Mississippi Pearl' and 'Some Things Don't Wash Off.

I believe this description is good, but I'd like to point out that there is a strong focus on the tragic and the macabre. I think this is both the strength and the weakness in this anthology. Mr.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Plot/Storyline: 5 Stars

The plots of each of these stories were unique and intriguing. While my favorite was the title story, "Bait", there was not one that I didn't like.

There was a common theme throughout many of the stories of dealing with loss and depression. There was also a common setting to a few, a bar that seemed to draw the most unsavory of characters.

With everything from supernatural beings, to devils, to dead men rising, these stories had something for every horror fan.

My second favorite was "Groundskeeper Hank". That one had a kind of evil "Forrest Gump" in it. Also, "Swallowed" was terrific, being the more realistic of the stories.

Characters: 4 1/2 Stars

The character development was very good within the short story form. My only complaint was that many of them seemed like the same character with different names. This was not true of all of the stories. It was just that too many of them featured a sad father who had either lost his wife, son, or both, or was in the process of doing so.

Writing Style: 4 3/4 Stars

While the writing style was excellent through most of the stories, there were a few that appeared to have been written prior to the author reaching his peak of talent. Obviously, Mr. Arnold has mastered the art of the short story form. He packs a huge wallop within very few words and pages. He knows how to draw a reader in from the first sentences and keep them enthralled throughout to the mostly bitter endings.

Rating: R for Language, Violence, Blood & Gore, Explicit Sex Scenes
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful collection of short horror stories. Joel Arnold's tales focus the darkness of the human soul instead of relying on blood and gore, because of this, the stories really strike a chord. The best story in the collection is SOME THINGS DON'T WATCH OFF, which is about a black tattoo artist giving a neo Nazi his final piece of skin art. Well worth checking out.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love horror and Joel Arnold's multiple "Year's Best Horror" honorable mentions (and the excellent pricing on Kindle) convinced me to give this a try. The cover art and title suggest that "Bait" might be a splatter-punkish gorefest, but in fact I was very glad to find that these stories are mostly quiet, literate, and discomfitting, rather than gross. That said, they pull few punches. As other reviewers have indicated, you won't find many happy endings here. Many of the stories are concerned with parental grief and estrangement, which does indeed make them very bleak.

A few stories -- "Sitting Ducks," "Swallowed," and "Jam Session" -- are just sort of horror sketches; fun enough to read, but not memorable or very distinctive. But the best stories here are haunting. "Some Things Don't Wash Off" should seem saccharine with its metaphor for racial hatred, but its sustained by well-wrought detail and becomes impossible to forget. "When the Heart Dies" reminded me of Kelly Link, the same dark fairytale sensibility that made her story "Catskin" so meaningful. "October Blizzard" is both utterly horrific and a thought-provoking meditation on the nature of evil -- so, in a very different way, is "The Apple Tree Man." I knew from the first page where the title story was going, but it's well-enough written that Arnold sucked me in anyway.

If you love a classic horror sensibility and strong storytelling, ignore the red meat on the cover and give "Bait" a try.
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