What an excellent collection!
Nicole Cushing contacted me a while back and offered me the chance to read her first collection of stories. I was honored and I accepted, so here we are.
Wildly imaginative and creative, I'm stunned by the quality of this volume. The tales are consistently good-whether they be totally out of the realm of possibility, (invisible babies? see Non Evidens), on the verge of possibility, (purchasing a newly tattooed or tanned skin? see The Peculiar Salesgirl), or too late to stop, (see The Cat in the Cage), each one brings its own intensity to the reader.
Most of these stories work on a few different levels-there's a lot of social commentary going on here, if the reader wants to analyze things. For instance, what are homeless shelters like in the future? (See White Flag). There were a number of things to reflect upon here-there are still homeless shelters in the future? Will they still be so crowded? Do they get there by flying buses? (Turns out they do.) On top of the entertainment value, many of these tales start your mind to thinking and I've always enjoyed that.
I rated each story as I read it-none of them was lower than 3 stars. However, I don't want to post a simple recitation of story titles, (even though these titles are AWESOME), and ratings. SO, these were my favorites:
The Suffering Clown -Just picture a sad clown sitting in a nearly empty parking lot-at night, asking you if he could perform for you. Creepy, right? This story worked SO well for me, I actually clapped with delight at the end. (I'm a geek, what can I say?)
Subcontractors-This story, to me, seemed to be- just making the best of a bad situation. Making lemonade from lemons, that whole thing. It was just so...weird and compelling. I don't know what else to say. You should read it.
I mentioned Non Evidens above, but it was just so out there I had to bring it up again. Just think about it-Invisible Babies. Babies that grow into adults, as lucky babies are wont to do. What's life as an invisible person like? Nicole explores that question as well as exploring the more generic, yet REAL questions of parenting and understanding. More claps at the end of this one.
I imagine that I see a lot of Ligotti here, maybe some Laird Barron and a pinch of Aickman. Maybe some Poe, too. Like I said, it's possible that's just my imagination. I like and respect all those guys, but Nicole has a voice of her very own and I'm digging it.
This collection is expected out on July 1st, from Cycatrix Press. I give it my HIGHEST recommendation!
*I received this e-ARC free, in exchange for an honest review.This is it.*