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Scribings, Vol 4: Miscreations Paperback – July 9, 2014
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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I like reading short stories, much more than I enjoy reading serialized novels, actually. It’s an attention-span issue, I think. Anyway … when I start a collection like this, I’m always looking for the unifying factors between the stories. Sometimes the links are so subtle that I wonder if I've been searching too deep for something to satisfy my need to unify the stories, and have ended up with a theme that wasn't ever intended. Other times, the editor/authors have set a theme, and are very upfront about it.
The theme for this volume is “miscreations,” which the introduction describes as, “things that should not exist, but do ... an event happens that transforms an entity into something so amazingly good or so horribly evil that you can’t help but be fascinated by its existence.” So, that’s cool. REALLY cool. And it sets the expectation that the reader will see the theme play out.
And even though the “miscreations” theme could play out in almost any genre, the cover (art by Peeter Parkker) promises suspense/supernatural with the potential for some horror. Again … I like it. You've got me. I’m on board. From what little I know about Greater Portland Scribists, I’m also expecting some science-fiction and fantasy.
I’ve been explicit with my expectations, because expectations always frame a reader’s experience with a book. Each piece in this collection varies in style, tone, genre, and in just about every other possible way. Some are dark, some are cute/silly. Some are action-oriented and others are philosophical narratives. Timothy Lynch’s two contributions, “Breed” and “The Hunt” are highlights in the collection -- the former being the darkest and most horror-inducing story of the bunch. The tension and suspense in "Naked Monsters" by D.L. Harvey grabbed me and kept me turning pages, and Shelli-Jo Pelletier’s “Qi’lin” left me wanting more in the best way possible.
But in many of the stories, I missed the cataclysmic event spawning some good/evil miscreation. In some cases, like Richard Veysey's "The Joke," (which is an excellent, character-driven story) one character's actions define him/her as an aberration, but the development of that character and the nature vs. nurture debate on how it came to be this way is merely backstory, and left to the reader's imagination. The volume reads like a collection of short stories from a group of very talented writers. But while the stories are excellent and the collection was a fun read, I was a bit disappointment that my expectations regarding the theme were not met.