Storyline: Well, what can I say? This anthology was full of twists, turns and surprises of the finest kind. Each author took their turn around the campfire and delivered perfectly! For brevity’s sake, I’m going to see if I can fit the summary of ALL of the stories into one mega-sentence. Ready? Here goes!
A God machine, a were-pug, a terrible day at work, a klepto grandmother, the quest for perfection and understanding, an obsession, some shameful secrets, a hungry dragon and a do-over all await you in this gargantuan collection of greatness!
Grammar/Spelling: I hardly noticed any errors. I like to think it is due in large part to the magnitude of talent contained within this collection and due to the laser-like precision of Red Adept’s editing skills.
Building God – Jessica Billings: I can absolutely see why this story won first place. It was wonderfully written with a spectacular twist. It was supremely suspenseful and had a great Twilight Zone feel. It kept me almost distracted as I tried to figure out what would cause the spike and then drop in the number of people in the world so I had to keep reading to find out!
Should Have Seen it Coming – Brendan Carroll: At first, I really didn’t like Kurt. He was a complete and utter jerk. But, as the story progressively gets scarier and the suspense builds up, I found myself actually worried about Kurt and wondering what really happened to his dog and, oh yeah, his beloved. And I totally didn’t see it coming!
Granny Theft Auto – T.L. Haddix: Oh man…this one was awesome! I could absolutely imagine a small town (my hometown even!) turning a blind eye to the old woman’s thievery and her poor son. He was trying to do the best with what he had. I will say that it seemed as if the ending was a bit over-explained. I don’t believe that it needed as much of a wrap as was given.
Fired – Lynn O’dell: Utterly and completely perfectly written short story. It was the perfect combination of build up and story only to end with a sudden bang. This could have really happened to anyone. The ending brought about a giggling fit only matched by those you’d get during church when you’re trying your best to focus on the sermon and not all of the crazy inappropriate things that just randomly pop into your mind at the wrong time.
Unbroken Mirror – C.S. Marks: This was a beautifully written fantasy epic and I really would love to read the full story. It really sounds like a gorgeous and amazing world. It does seem a bit long-winded and heavy for a short story though. Maybe if some of the back story was pared down a bit?
42jorie – John Philpin: Another great short story with a wonderful balance of suspense and surprise. I really got into Peter’s frustration and annoyance with the smug Marjorie. Of course, sometimes, you have to be very careful about what information you share on the Interwebz. It could really lead to some major problems.
Leo’s Wife – Patricia Sierra: This short story was very well-written and I’m sure it’s happened to more people than would care to admit. Another inappropriate giggle escaped me while at work. (You guys are SO going to get me in trouble!) I did figure it out about 2 or 3 sentences from the end. But, I think that was the author’s intent. Sort of an “oh my God” moment and then disbelief that it actually happened.
Traditions – Michael Sullivan: Some traditions are meant to be broken and changed… I could really feel the terror and then determination of the girl as she resolutely set out to take control of her own fate. I felt every step she took and was really racking my ol’ grey matter trying to figure out what the sacrifice was all about. Of course, in the end, the story did end up asking some pretty important moral and ethical questions. Sacrifice for the greater good by staying the same or buck tradition and, for better or worse, change the world around you?
A Long Lonely Time – J.R. Tomlin: Another superb sample of short story sweetness. (Alliteration is a very powerful tool in any good author’s repertoire…or so I’m told. That implies that I’m a good author! HA!) Diane’s lived a fulfilling and happy life with her husband or has it truly been fulfilling? She is given the chance to revisit her past and make the ultimate decision that will change everything as she knows it. I devoured this short story with such a quickness that I wondered if it were all one paragraph. Hmmm… I wonder if I’d have made the same choice as Diane… Makes me wonder what I’d change if given the chance.
Overall Rating: 5+
You guys did an amazing job on these short stories! I really felt like each of you nailed the surprise twist and ending. I hope that each of you continue to churn out more short stories. What can I say? I’m greedy! I would also like for Lynn to be able to create a second anthology of greatness. Soooooo…get to it, y’all!
On a side note: I think we should ALL encourage Ms. Lynn O’dell (Red Adept, herself!) to write more for our viewing pleasure! If I can have a favorite story of them all (and I like to think that it’s ok for me to choose a favorite), it’s hers. You would do us all a great disservice if this was your only published foray into the written word (beyond your reviews, of course). Thank you so much for sharing, Lynn!