Monday, March 10, 2014

Duncan & Kelso (edd.), Caledonia Dreamin' (2013)

Hal Duncan and Chris Kelso (edd.), Caledonia Dreamin’: Strange fiction of Scottish descent. Eibonvale Press, 2013. Pp. 274. ISBN 978-1-90-81253-0-9. £9.50.

Reviewed by Margrét Helgadóttir

The anthology, edited by Hal Duncan and Chris Kelso and published by Eibonvale Press in December 2013, is a well-crafted collection of seventeen stories that all have been written on the basis of a single Scottish word. The Scottish language and culture is the dominant frame of this book, but it has a broad range of themes and plots and travel across all the speculative genres. The characters in these stories deal with issues like a sudden urge to bathe in the muddy water, the complaining dead mother, the hungry newborn child, the yearning for knowledge, the fear of turning into an animal, a longing for the homeland, or not wanting to go home but to keep wandering. These tales are weird, terrifying, dark, beautiful, disturbing and funny. It was quite a thought-provoking read. Some of these stories are amongst the best stories I have read for quite a while and I recommend the book for not only the lovers of Scotland, the Scots language or linguistics in general, but for all fans of the weird and unexplainable, or people who enjoys plain good writing.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Biddle, Atheist’s Prayer (2014)

Amy R. Biddle, The Atheist’s Prayer. Perfect Edge Books, 2014. Pp. 234. ISBN 978-1-78099-582-3. $16.95/£9.99.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

In a vibrant and gripping first novel, Biddle has produced a strong satirical critique of human behaviour; specifically the behaviour that surrounds belief and what we do to sustain it. In a tale of ordinary folk in a dingy, Southern-State American town from very different backgrounds, their lives intertwine in a series of events culminating in near-tragedy. Lizzie is a single mother of Kevin, a somewhat precociously curious little seven-year old. Kevin makes friends at Sunday school with eleven-year-old Luna, whose psychologically broken mother, Heather, is part of a fairy-believing cult. Buying hallucinogenic mushrooms from Candy, a tattooed stripper, Heather draws the children into a dangerous ritual, from which only Candy and Hank, a barroom rat, can save them.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Wimpress, Weeks in Naviras (2013)

Chris Wimpress, Weeks in Naviras. Self-published, 2013. Pp. 255. ISBN 978-1-31079-670-8. $2.99.

Reviewed by Paul Wilks

Ellie Weeks, the main protagonist in Chris Wimpress’ Weeks in Naviras is killed in a terrorist attack. However, shortly afterwards she wakes to find herself in a unique afterlife based on her experiences of Naviras, a quiet Portuguese fishing village which she had fallen in love with many years before. The story is split into two narratives which generally alternate with each chapter. It begins with Ellie’s afterlife experience but then also provides the background of her life and how she came to be killed. The book is well-structured with this evocative trick that keeps you reading, even in the more pedestrian sections of the narrative where you’re not quite sure what the story is driving towards.