Hello and welcome to today’s incessant keyboard typing of a madman, hope everybody is ready for December month, with all its holiday stress and activities.
Today’s post is the short story collection “Cruel Works of Nature” by Gemma Amor.
I came across the author a while back when I was surfing some crowdfunding site, liked the sound of the book she was gathering support for, so I did what any sane person would do, I supported her project! Then I thought to myself “I probably should read some of her other stuff” (weirdly enough, the voice in my head does not sound like my own voice, it’s a bit more deeper, anyways), so I went out and got me a copy of her first short story collection and devoured it, so here we are, and here are my thought on each story:
Foliage: The book starts with a pretty gruesome botanical horror story, reads like a Victorian story, will never look at overgrown garden without feeling some dread again. Great start for this collection.
Jack in the Box: Shows the difficulty in buying good birthday gifts for one’s spouse when the marriage is in trouble!
Black Sand: Shows the importance in heeding warning signs when you are out hiking! This made me a bit weary of sand beaches!
It was at this point I realized I needed to read more from Gemma Amor, so I bought the novella “Dear Laura” (which you can also buy HERE)
Back Alley Sue: Grief and loss can be one hell of a life-ruining thing! Also, seagulls are bad!
Girl on Fire: Shows why you should not antagonize someone that can (literary) explode in a ball of fire.
Scuttlebug: Man, who finally got his life on track, finds himself in the middle of a spider apocalypse. If you hate spiders, do not read this, if you hate horse sized spiders, definitely do not read this!! If you like spiders, read this, if you love spiders, seek help!
The Path Through Lower Fell: Couple with relationship problems encounter a herd of vitamin deficient cows in a lovely field whilst hiking.
His Life’s Work: Proves the point that doctors are bad patients, insane doctors are worse patients!
Special Delivery: Its common sense that one should not agree to receive anonymous packages from UPS drivers (or any kind of delivery service for that matter), this story shows the dangers of such a package. Made me vary of any package I get… I get a lot of packages…
It Sees You When You’re Sleeping: Its maybe not Santa that comes down the chimney during Christmas. This story made me glad I don’t have a fireplace where I live!
Sketchbook: A dying woman remembers the time her son got a magic sketchbook. Truth be told, this reads like a Stephen King short story, one of the really good ones!!
So, the question now is whether or not I liked this short story collection, in short, no. I LOVED this collection!! There are many reasons why, the stories within this book are really varied, no two tales feel the same. The tales are also very unpredictable, you never know what is going to happen next, the stories are filled with twist and turns that you will never see coming!
The characters are fantastic, it is really hard to write believable well-rounded characters that you would care for in short story format, but Gemma Amor shines here with some beautifully written protagonists, from the depressed widower trying to get on with his life to the hapless husband that struggles with a birthday gift to his almost estranged wife, from the woman hiking with her boyfriend, expecting no bad things to happen, to the doctor doing a standard house call, they all feel real, grounded in reality. Many of protagonist have their own tragic backstories, some that almost surpasses what they endure in their own story.
A horror story is nothing without its scares, something that one will find aplenty in Cruel Works of Nature, from unsettling atmosphere, creeping sensations of dread to visceral gore and violence, it is something for everybody within these pages. It takes real talent to make someone afraid and unsettled of an overgrown garden or a sandy beach!
I would be amiss if I did not mention the beautiful breath-taking illustrations that accompanies each story, all hand drawn by the author herself, for me it shows how much she cares about the stories that she has written.
So, in the end, this is a fantastic collection by a clearly talented writer, which I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that likes proper horror! And that I suspect will have a great future in the field of horror writing!