Author: Michael J. Wyant Jr. (Amazon/Twitter)
Genre: Science Fiction
Reading time: approx. 10-15 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I like science fiction. I realize the genre isn't for everyone. But when it is done well, it can elicit a deep reflection on life's greatest questions in ways that other genres can't. You'll find such a reflection in Michael J. Wyant Jr.'s "Perfecting Humanity".
The writing style is captivating, you'll find yourself frantically reading the story because the main character is frantic. The story straps you in tightly, and your curiosity speeds you through the plot. You have to understand what's happening. In a way, it doesn't matter that there are elements of science fiction in the answer. The answer could have been anything and you would have appreciated the journey.
There are a couple of loose ends in the story that I wished I could know more about, like whether there were others like the main character. A writer would often tell you that's the hallmark of a good story, but you expressing a desire to know more, that little seed of dissatisfaction that the story's over -- it means you're hooked and invested.
It's definitely worth a read unless you detest all things sci-fi, and even then you might find yourself enjoying this story.
Note on where to find this story: This story was originally published in Aphotic Realm's Dystopia issue in July 2018. You can order the issue here.
Author: Amr Nasser (Smashwords/Twitter)
Reading time: 8-10 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
The beauty of language and description is on full display in Amr Nasser's The Chant. You will find yourself quickly immersed in the setting, reading on not only to solve the mystery presented in the first few lines of the story, but also to experience the rich language that brings life to the story.
There is an eerie sense that something is not quite right almost from the beginning of the story, the author does a fine job of building the suspense as you continue. I personally enjoy when an author leaves you with as many questions as they answer, and this story definitely falls into that category. There are many things to enjoy about this story, and even if you end up not liking it, you'll likely find yourself reading to the end anyhow, because the author does such a wonderful job building toward a climax.
Reading Time: approx. 20 minutes
Author: Holly Jane (Wattpad/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I will be the first to admit that horror is not among my favorite genres. But to give Jingle Hells a fair shake, I decided to look at it from a different perspective.
First, the presentation style is akin to something you'd find in Bram Stoker's Dracula, where the narrative is pieced together by diary entries. It's an effective method, especially for first-person narration, as it brings you "along for the ride". You're experiencing the events and emotions along with the character. This story does well in this facet.
In terms of the plot, there are times where you can sense what's coming, though the author tangles you up a little with some twists and turns. I have read stories that try too hard to throw you off the trail and end up being nonsense. This story isn't one of those, though I did find myself wanting just a few more facts to get a more satisfying conclusion. At times you may find yourself chuckling at some of the diary entries. It could be intentional humor by the writer, or perhaps my own habit at scoffing at some of the implausible things that tend to happen in horror stories.
Generally, it's a somewhat lighthearted frolic through the horror genre.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Reading time: approx. 15 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
The striking thing about this work is how the author starts it. You take a few steps in, then suddenly realize you're in quicksand. Not the bad "throw me a vine" kind, but the kind that drives your curiosity to solve the mystery presented in the opening lines.
There is action that provides the backstory, presenting it in a way that does not feel disjointed, it weaves into the narrative seamlessly. There are a few parts that leave you wanting just a few more tidbits of detail, but not in a way that detracts from the overall story. A good short story, given its limitations on length, will provide you clues and let you fill in the blanks. Without revealing too much of the plot, the story deals with some of the big questions all of us might ask ourselves when we sense death is near.
Overall, this story does everything that a short story should do. It focuses on one thing and paints background in that context, it makes you think, and leaves you satisfied when you are finished reading.
My picks are a collection of reviews from fellow short story authors. I've tried to procure stories from different genres, from a wide variety of authors. Most importantly, you'll know how long it will take you to finish reading them.
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