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On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days (Volume 1) Paperback – November 4, 2012
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On Stranger Winds ushers in the fall season, penned by an author who defines it. Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) will without a doubt take you to a colder place, a world where trees are decorated in gold and orange if not barren, and darkness reigns supreme. I would be remiss if I didn't say that there is happiness and humor to be found in such corners, when you look close enough, but by all means proceed with caution. Robert has October's heart beating in his chest, and you will be transported accordingly. - Daniel Boyer, Critical Corner
From the Author
Award winner (in print) for best book in the Science Fiction - Fantasy category of the 2013 New Mexico & Arizona Book Awards. New Mexico Books Co-op promotes the best in local NM-AZ books.
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I would recommend this book to a friend who likes to read fantasy.
The concept sounds very promising, and the cover has an eerie, enticing look. I was so intrigued by the basic premise of some of the stories, I threw caution to the wind and got a copy of this book.
I should mention, on a positive note, that the stories themselves begin with interesting concepts. In fact, I can imagine that the author may be a skilled storyteller, when it comes to telling a tale orally. Unfortunately, however, the writing is so bad that I was not even able to make it through the book. I tried hanging in there, but it became absolutely painful reading it, to the point that I couldn't stomach another page.
Interestingly enough, a main character in the first story ("The Herbivorous Witch") is a child who has made a habit of looking up big words in the thesaurus and dropping them into her speech. This is ironic, because it seems that the author has done the exact same thing. If I had to guess, I'd say that the author initially wrote the stories in very simple language, then used a thesaurus to look up a longer, three-syllable synonym for every word he could, and inserted these words automatically with the "replace" function of Microsoft Word. The end result is a story written in extremely awkward language. The reader gets the impression that the author is trying to impress us with his vocabulary, but is not always certain what the exact definition of these words are. Many words are used incorrectly, and clauses and constructs are nearly nonsensical.
I remember reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" as a child and then trying to write my own stories in the same style. The result, of course, was a story which looked exactly like what it was--something written by a 4th grader who was trying to sound like an English scholar, and not succeeding. "On Stranger Winds" evokes the same feeling. The author would have been much better served to simply write in a style that was comfortable for him--to stick with simpler language, and develop the concept of the story rather than try to use every big word he could muster, whether or not the word fit in the sentence.
I repeat, I can see where some of these stories could have a very interesting basic concept. The first story, if written in a completely different fashion, could hypothetically be an intriguing, creepy tale. I feel like the author would be much better served to simply develop the main concept and then hire a ghost writer (forgive the pun) to do the actual writing. If he were to do this, and release a fully re-worked version of these stories written in a style that is comprehensible, I would gladly buy it.
As it is, however, I am sad to have to give this book only two stars. I'm afraid I couldn't even make it through to the end--that's how poor the writing is.
All in all, this book is really good and its nice to find a collection of well thought out short stories. And I know it is not wise to judge a book by it's cover, but I love the cover art and I choose to display the book on my bookshelf cover out instead of spine-out in order to shame the other books into not being as awesome with their own covers.
Ok, I'm starting to ramble now. Time to cozy up in a bed of frosty autumn leaves under a dead oak tree and read through this wonderful book again!
These stories range from darkly poetic, to whimsical in that way you only find on Halloween, when you're as likely to see a princess or a fairy as a ghost or a mummy walking down the street. My favorite is a toss up between Watrous and Valmora and the Ballad of Papi Huesos. Everything about these two stories, centering around the mystical "pumpkinheart" are written perfectly to capture the mystery and adventure that Halloween makes us feel as children (and, for some of us, as adults too.)
With nicely creepy hints, and without being what I would call all-out scary, this book will be an indispensable part of my fall rotation (as well as a pick me up in December, April, July....) I cannot say enough good things about these stories, so I'll just say that if you are an Autumn Person, you should really read this, and I'm confident you will be as delighted as I have been.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes a good gothic tale. Some stories have a happier ending and some are much darker. Suitable for adults and older children. The cover art is a nice compliment to the stories too. The best collection of chilling and charming stories I've come across in a long time.