Wow. I really wish this series of short stories had been released around Halloween, some of the stories are very good and the horror/fantasy elements are great. There are at least two stories I wish had been longer novels (The Six Deaths of the Saint and Undercover) because of how good they were and how much I didn’t want the stories to be over when I got to the end.
“The Garden” by Tomi Adeyemi (2 stars)-This one compared to the other books in the series was fairly weak I thought. We follow a young woman named Lęina. Leina has decided to travel to Brazil to find where her mother apparently ran away to almost 15 years earlier. I just didn’t buy Leina making this trip and I was getting really tired of the poems that broke up the sister. Leina just seems to have no center and even though she has a promise of something, she just leaves to go to the mythical Garden.
“Persephone” by Lev Grossman (3 stars)-I really felt like I got stuck in the middle of reading a young adult adventure book. I don’t know if this is part of a larger work that Grossman has done, but I felt like as I read I was supposed to know what was going on and I did not. I needed more set up in this one.
“The Six Deaths of the Saint” by Alix E. Harrow (5 stars)-Wow. Fantastic. I loved the entire story. I don’t want to spoil, but loved the fantasy elements. And I loved that Harrow didn’t take up too much room with trying to over explain anything. I just fell into the story and felt sad when I got to the end. A sign of a great short story.
“Undercover” by Tamsym Muir (5 stars)-Wow. Again. Seriously. Who knew a short story about zombies could have so much intrigue. No spoilers, but I loved the twist. I was like, wait what the hell when I got to the end. I wanted to know more and wanted to follow this new world that Muir created.
“What the Dead Know” by Nghi Vo (4 stars)-I thought this was really good. The only reason why I didn’t rave about it earlier on was the beginning was a little slow and I did get a bit confused while reading. I thought Vo did a great job of setting the stage of a pair of grifters running around during the 1920s who were pretending to be spiritualists. Performing for a girls school, things turn deadly for the pair though.
“The Candles Are Burning” by Veronica G. Henry (4 stars)-This one takes a bit to get going, but I loved the reveal and what ends up happening to someone who I thought was kind of awful, though he may not have seen it that way. Taking place in the 1950s in Savannah, we follow Maggie who is left adrift after the death of her husband. Maggie though starts to get a need to create candles and she is starting to think she seems something. I did like the twist in this one.
“Out of the Mirror, Darkness” by Garth Nix (3.5 stars)-This story follows Jordan who is a “fixer” who works on a silent movie set. When something mysterious happens to one of the actresses, he and Mrs. Hope (a secretary who works for the movie studio) do what they can to fix things. I loved the idea behind the mystical elements in this one and how Jordan gets to the bottom of what is going on. But I did feel a bit confused for a bit portion of it.