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Falling Over Paperback – June 15, 2013
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The first story, “Falling Over,” which sets the tone of the book, is a fine example of the alien among us. The MC knows there is something different about a classmate, and pinpointing that difference may be even more frightening than not. The atmosphere in the story is incredibly convincing and the horror so subtle, it has already sank into you by the time you sense it.
“The Man Dogs Hated,” just bizarre and equally satisfying. “Sick Leave” is as creepy as it gets with the children in one teacher’s class overtaken by something dark and unnatural. “Drone,” is thrilling as it is unsettling, and masterfully depicts how one soldier deals with guilt and the inevitable that may be coming.
What each of these stories has in common, besides originality, literal goodness, and perfect endings, is how well they are executed. You never expect what is coming next, and the flow the stories, in all the fine details, are effortless to read, something all writers know is a true talent. I would recommend this collection to anyone and everyone.
Falling Over is a collection of short fiction (one as brief as a few paragraphs; the others are longer). I found these stories horrifying, though they are not all strictly horror. The tile story is a case in point. Taken literally, Falling Over is a “body snatcher” story. Or it’s about growing up and finding your place in the world. Or it’s about losing your soul. Take your pick. The story is told first person; the author’s sense of voice is pitch perfect, depicting a college student suffering though a school break with a few fellow classmates.
Some of the tales fall into the category of supernatural horror, though never in a conventional way. Drones is a terrific take on modern warfare-from-a-distance. The final lines of the tale struck me as one of the best gut-punch endings I’ve read, in part because of Everington’s understated delivery.
Having worked in the corporate world as a mid-level manager, I found New Boy particularly disturbing. The story elements include a tragedy, a doppelganger and the usual raft of professional outrages, from whispers and plots to suspensions and terminations. As with each story in this collection, Everington’s prose matches the tale at hand. New Boy applies a straight-forward, no-nonsense style to increasingly bizarre circumstance. I had corporate flashbacks.
Sick Leave features whispers too—the secrets of school children. Emma is a first-year teacher who returns from a bout with an undetermined illness. In her absence, a substitute teacher worked a profound change on her class. A dead aunt, a class that behaves too well, a smarmy schoolmaster and the bubonic plague inform the plot. (Take a moment to reread that short list of ingredients to get a hint of how unusual these tales are.)
Everington’s stories are off. The everyday settings are deceiving, because there’s something abnormal lurking around every corner. Worse, the tales are sticky. They cling to you like flypaper. I can’t promise these tales will scare you. But they sure as hell will disturb you. (Five stars out of five)
I've been a fan of James Everington for a couple of years now. I very much enjoyed his other short story collection The Other Room, (I still think about one story-A Writer's Words often),as well as his work with the Abominable Gentlemen on the Penny Dreadnoughts. Penny Dreadnought: Omnibus! Volume 1. I was excited to read this new collection. Once again, Mr. Everington sucked me in with his intriguing and intelligent stories.
There were a few stories within that worked exceptionally well for me and here they are:
"The Time Of Their Lives"-If you had a chance to turn back time, would you? Even if that meant regaining the petty jealousies of the young? I thought this story was extremely well written and I have entire paragraphs highlighted on my Kindle. 5*
"Haunted"-This was a flash fiction story (100 words) that I thought was very cool. 4*
"The Man Dogs Hated"-I think this story is the definition of weird fiction. There is some commentary within about small town communities and prejudices... and just plain weirdness. I liked it! 4*
"Sick Leave"-My favorite story of this collection. A teacher returns to school after a long illness. It was weird, foggy and creepy- complete with schoolchildren acting strangely. Seriously, I shuddered more than a few times reading this one. 5*
"Drones"-This story came in a close second to Sick Leave. Have you ever wondered about the actual people behind the drone? This story will suck you right in if you have. It would probably suck you in, even if you haven't. 5*
At the end of this collection, Mr. Everington includes some tidbits about how the stories came about. I always enjoy reading how a story was created and I especially like that the explanation comes at the end, rather than the beginning. There were a few typos in this collection, not enough for me to stop enjoying it, but enough to reduce my rating by .5.
I eagerly await anything else Mr. Everington wants to put out there! His fiction is hard to categorize-there are no set parameters, and that's the way I like it. If this collection sounds intriguing to you, I think you will enjoy it. Give it a shot!