These little collections are great in a very specific way; the stories are quick, unique from each other, and can be accessed through both the Kindle and Audible. If I have just a few minutes to listen while doing chores, I can pop in and out without needed to re-immerse myself in something long and complicated! If I have a long line at the Post Office, I can stand and read the majority of a story while I wait. Low impact, low commitment, and decent amounts of satisfaction. Like snacks! Or Quick Bites! Or…Quibi? Nah, that one was doomed from the start.
Speaking of DOOMED, these pieces are all whirling around DECEPTIONS! Amazon describes them as “six different stories, six different deceptions”- how MYSTERIOUS. *cue lightning crash*
Unfortunately, the deceptions aren’t always different: for a few of these stories, the deception was that they were presented as worth reading. Ha!
Snow Flakes 3/5
My first Ruth Ware! This collection served as an introduction to…oh wow, all of these authors! I really enjoyed the setup of this piece; children on an otherwise uninhabited coastal island are put to work by their father. Something is coming to get them, but the children are unsure and the father is unclear. They spend their days hauling rocks to build a wall. Who- or what- will this wall keep out? The family came to the island years ago, after running in the middle of the night from a war torn city. The war still rages on, but the little family has remained untouched since their departure- until something very big happens, of course. I cannot say more without spoiling things- which is going to be a problem with a lot of these write ups! The bite-sized mystery format doesn’t give me a lot of space to play, as these stories are tightly wound and quick paced. Now that I am aware of Ware (I’ll see myself out) I will add some more of her work to my ever-climbing TBR list.
I have heard only great things about Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, and if it is anything like Treasure the rave reviews are warranted! A young woman in Lagos is obsessed with becoming an Influencer, and a young man following her is obsessed with making her his wife. Wealth looms large throughout all of the stories in this collection, but it is best inspected, dissected, and twisted in this piece. The canyon between the richest and the poorest of people nears it’s widest point in Treasure, with all parties being painted as equally desperate and disillusioned. The tension that tightens as all of Braithwaite’s pieces fall into place rapidly approaches like an anxiety attack, and I am feeling sweaty just recounting this story. It’s short, shocking, mean, and strangely cool- I cannot wait to read more Braithwaite. The audio version of this piece is especially good. Adepero Oduye embodies each character with a distinct voice; she makes our narrator a professional chameleon as well, giving the whole story another surprising sheen.
Slow Burner 4/5
I have been tip-toeing around the edges of Laura Lippman’s work for a long time; I respect her history as a reporter, I have really enjoyed long-form interviews in which she has participated, and I have a few of her books waiting on my TBR, but this is my first plunge into her fiction! A woman discovers that her husband of over a decade is engaging in text-based flirtation with a co-worker, and all of the balls start rolling- just not in the way that you expect them to go. DECEPTION! The husband is so perfectly hate-able: smarmy, self-centered, oblivious, and especially delighted by his own cleverness. Our narrator plays him like an expensive fiddle; an ornament designed to be displayed, but is still surprisingly functional. I will be pursuing more Lippman; if you have any recommendations please let the fly! I am all ears!
This is the most “traditional” of the group; an Investigative Journalist uncovers a potential Serial Killer on the eve of his retirement, and he sets out on one last story. This piece was a treasure trove of twists and tropes, and I appreciate the old-fashioned feel. It’s a dark story about bad people doing worse things, of course, but it was comforting to hit the familiar beats of a “thriller”. My feelings are paralleled by another character in this piece; she is the new-media heir to the old journalist’s throne, and their clash-first-comradery-second relationship checks all of the right boxes. Murder, politics, coincidence, and live burial- what else could you want?
The Gift 1/5
A gift of true garbage, my friends! This was my first (and will be my last!) experience with Alison Gaylin, and it left much to be desired. We are invited into the world of a Hollywood starlet, her leading-man hunk of a husband, and their missing daughter. There are lies, ghosts, and psychics. Sounds potentially promising, right? Wrong! This piece read like a campfire tale told by overexcited middle schoolers. There is an obsession with wealth that is amazingly uninformed; weird descriptions of clothing, cars, shoes, and jewels that seem to have been created by little kids playing dress-up. Treasure depicted wealth with aspirational accuracy, where has the designer tags here feel like mad-libs. The wealth is not the only thing to feel cheap; the action, deception, and wrap-up feel like a kid stayed up too late procrastinating over a book report and turned something in at the last minute fueled by Sour Patch Kids and Surge fumes.
Let Her Be 1/5
Featuring one of the worst narrators I have ever had the displeasure of spending time with, Let Her Be is an exercise in personal punishment. Just…don’t read this. Gaslighting, domestic abuse, stalking, suicide attempts…all within a few dozen pages and all enacted by our narrator. The twist is barely a twist, the “deception” is cruel, and I do not want to read any more pieces including “poetry” written by side characters- we get it, Lisa Unger. You found your own high school poetry absolutely mesmerizing and there was nothing more exciting to you than sneaking it into a story and having everyone comment how it is “amazing”, “meaningful”, and “memorable”. The memorable bit gets played out and around the corner; our narrator frequently recites bits of it back to the side character. Euuugh. I will not be doing any further investigating into her work.
A 2.6 average rounds up to a 3 for the collection! This has been the most uneven collection of the Amazon Originals that I have read so far; but the good were great and the bad were terrible. The duds were “worth it”, though, as thanks to this collection I now have three more authors to read, read, read!