“A short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” Stephen King Opus22 is an original anthology from the newly formed Melius Scripto Press, a small publisher born out of an International community of both experienced and emerging authors and editors. It’s an eclectic collection of stories, across genres and styles, with a common theme. The collection comprises of 22 stories. Each one is about or mentions the theme Piano. From reminisiscence and regret to genuine horror this collection has been thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. I won’t review each story but my personal favorites and worthy of mentioning are
The poetic prose of Akira Fuyuno’s Chocolate Soup.
The Dystopian fantasy of Wayne Meyer’s Sonnet of the New Dawn.
The dry satire of Michelle Freson’s domestic noir, The Final Supper
The engrossing depths of Lazarus Gray’s The End of Love
The vivid and shocking imagery of Deacon Gray’s Requiem for a Liar
Despite choosing the above stories, I can honestly say I enjoyed every single one, despite length and genre. Some are steeped in nostalgia and romance, others are traditionally crafted in their genre. If you’re a reader that enjoys anthologies, you’re going to love Opus22.
The Dutch Golden Age of shipbuilding, import and export, and exotic explorations, was a dark time for some. A young bride arrives into the bustling City of Amsterdam, to live with her new wealthy Merchant husband, but doesn’t get what she expected! Bored and alone she is gifted something that leads to one mystery after another. Is her future being told by a witch or is someone provoking her? It’s not a warm, romantic type of book despite similarities in plot with classics from The Brontes and Austen. It was slow to start but it didn’t take long to be enthralled, not only by each complicated character but by all the subplots and entangled mysteries. It is a wonderfully dark story and has an air of magic realism that drew me in. At times I felt it was a little ‘purple’ but somehow this lended itself to the story. I can’t say the characters were credible in terms of real-life everyday people, but they were complicated, layered and mysterious. They all had a contradictory side and a rich history. For me, it worked. Maybe that’s because the story itself dealt with real-life situations we might come across in our modern World. All of the characters were isolated from their society for one reason or another: each had a dark history at some level and the story brings them all together in one house. My favourite character was Marin. First seen as a purist who eats cold herrings for breakfast and doesn’t indulge herself with unGodly things like sugar, we later see the real Marin, and the reader cannot help but both have sympathy and admiration for her and her lost potential.
For a first novel, I think it’s right up there. I look forward to reading more from Jesse Burton.
Tom Mitchell recounts his true and bizarre meeting of an adorable Penguin while traveling in Central America in his twenties. He stumbled across the only one left alive on a shore of oil slicken Penguins in Uruguay and manages to bring him back to the flat where he is staying. There’s a strong bond from the start. Under the regime of Eva Perón with an imminent military coup, the penguin was smuggled through customs and into Argentina, back to the boarding school where Tom taught. Juan Salvador, the charming Penguin, manages to become the school mascot and everyone’s friend. He’s pampered and treasured by students and school staff alike. The most enjoyable thing about this light hearted quirky tale is that it’s true. The formidable determination of Tom resulted in Juan Salvador living a very charmed life indeed! Here’s where the charm stops. There wasn’t enough story to go into such word count. It wasn’t a long story, and it wasn’t a profound story. I found myself flicking through three to four pages of a rugby match yawn-fest and then again with a scene where Tom and Juan meet the school’s housekeepers’s family. There were more than a few of these moments in the book. I think if they were shorter they could have been much funnier. The book did include some interesting insight into the Argentinian society and political World of the seventies. The cover, the concept, and the cute little illustrations were as delightful as the tale itself but frankly, there were too many pages. Overall a light and entertaining story but I feel it lacked substance and had too many fillers.
Set in 1948, both Hortense and Gilbert’s desire for living the dream in the ‘mother Country’ land them together in their struggle to make their way in a new World. This World is not the one they thought it was and it takes time to make sense of it all. Their lives intertwine with an English couple who are also stumbling blindly through the war and the aftermath, reassessing their own moral compasses
This is, quite frankly, the best novel I’ve read in some time. Insightful and full of revelations, Levy teaches us a lessons in misconceptions of identity. Along with learning some valuable British and Jamaican history, I rejoiced in such well written characters and was immersed in the evoking plot from start to finish.
Structurally, the novel was not ordered in a traditional way. Each chapter represented the perspective of one character. They were not divided equally nor in chronological order. No, they were strategically ordered in a way to reveal each characters past and how it effected their present circumstances.
I miss this book and would love to read about these characters further on in their lives.
An old murder case is dug up despite nobody wanting to relive it. Alison goes back to her old hometown with a longing for the truth. A guilt ridden detective, and old friend with secrets and lots of locals intertwined in this mysterious past. Thirteen years previously, Esme’s family was gruesomely murdered while she hid in her attic room in the crooked house. The story dealt with her memories and the piecing together of what really happened. It was haunting, tense and atmospheric from the start. Suspense hung at every corner, and the reader was left hanging throughout with new potential suspects. From page 210 I began to get frustrated with the number of characters still involved in the main plot. The three brothers, old friends, the locals from the pub, friends back in London, and that didn’t even include her boyfriend Paul or the family of the wedding Alison was attending. I think the plot should have been narrower at this stage. While Paul was involved in dark and suspect scenes and dialogue, my favourite character was Morgan. Despite being in the background she played a huge role in the story. There was always a desire to know more about her. The main characters were all believable and highly visual. The flashbacks and dreams were written well. The reader was brought back in time and forward with ease and the story emerged in this fractured style of writing. I would recommend this book to those who like to read crime and mystery. There are lots of hooks and intertwining subplots to keep the readers interest. I found the first half much more gripping. However, for me, over halfway through the book I found myself rushing through to get to the finish. I needed more suspense and less characters involved at that stage.
Last year was a poor year for reading so I’ve decided to up my game in 2017, giving myself the challenge of reading 30 books throughout the year. I thought I might struggle after 2016’s meager 10 books but no, more early nights, less T.V. and series binge watching seems to be agreeing with me! Book number 6 was finished today. I have chosen to use Goodreads.com as it has a simple built-in book challenge and shares easily into the wordpress format, so I can post each review individually! This new regime is keeping me driven and active with my reading which is much needed for the Creative Writing module I am currently working on with Open University UK.
Reviewing books is something I’ve thought about doing for years but never seemed to find the time. I’ve just started out and am enjoying but will begin to write longer reviews with more critical analysis, rather than summaries. Hopefully, developing further will allow me to apply for ARCs in the future 🙂 Watch this space!
An elegant collection of short stories with unforgettable characters and engrossing plots. The style is serene and a little slow moving in parts for me, but always worth the wait as each delves into the lives of people that are ostracized by society in some way. The voices and points of view are beautifully developed from both strong female and male characters and this makes the collection a special one. The variation in plots, too, hold the interest for the reader. All stories have a lesson to learn although not all lessons are obvious. The need for some interpretation is done so well and seamlessly. There wasn’t one story I did not enjoy. My favourite collection of stories…TO DATE!