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Monsters (Dark Drabbles #3) – Book Review

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published September 2nd 2019
Monstrous shorts not short on monsters
This is not my first foray into the world of the drabble, but for those who have come in late, a drabble is a piece of writing exactly 100 words long. As I have said once before, it has become something of a popular form in recent years as story-tellers attempt to tell an entirely coherent story within the drabble's quite strict limitations.

A few months ago Black Hare Press released Worlds, their first collection of drabbles. That was a fine collection, and now comes their third in the series: Monsters, edited by D. Kershaw. (The second was Angels, which I have not read.)
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As the title suggests, these are stories (and there are over 300 of them) with a distinct horror bent, focusing on the world of monsters of all shapes and sizes.

A collection of drabbles is an easy read. Basically, there's a new story on each page, none of the stories out-stay their welcome, and if you don't like one, it'll be over soon enough. A bathroom reader, for want of a better term. You can read it on public transport, while eating, all sorts of things, and not have to worry about where in a story you finish, because you will finish.

Now, in comparison to Worlds (which was science-fiction), this collection came across much better. But it was not perfect. I did not keep tally of how many did not like, but there were a number, though it was small. There were also, unlike in the first volume, a number of editing issues. Some of them were clearly because of the way the authors wrote their tales, but that should have meant they could have found something else, but it was not as 'clean' as the first volume. Another problem was that there were a lot of monster repeats. This is because there are only a few monster tropes that are well-known enough to write a successful short story that engages the reader. You do not have the space in a drabble to develop a monster no-one would have heard of before. That did give some tales a feel of being "same-y". And a number of endings could be seen a mile away.

There's the negatives. But the positives – there were more stories that really grabbed me than last time. More of the writings were complete tales. The little occasional illustrations were better than in Worlds because they related more to the story being told that they were near. An example – one of the dragon stories was accompanied by a picture was of the knight who could have been the main character. So, I think they worked better in this volume. And there were a lot of well done tales trying to approach the stories from the point of view of the monster (something I've seen a bit of lately!). So, again, the positives far outweigh the negatives. And, all-in-all, I preferred Monsters to Worlds.

Also again, at 300-plus tales, I am not going to go through them all, and if I didn't like a story, I do not want to upset anyone. See, dislikes are personal, and what I might not like, someone else might love, so it is unfair for me to put someone's work down. But if I like it, then I can be positive. And that is the way I am going to go about this. Now, something else that also occurred in the Worlds volume: authors were allowed a maximum of five stories in the book, and yet again, Australian author Jefferson Retallack wrote 5 stories that not only stood alone, but, because they were placed together, they once more read through as chapters of one long drabble story. He is making that something of his speciality.

Anyway, here are my 20 favourites in the order they appear in the book. And I should point out it is quite stunning how many authors appear in both books.

'Kismet' by Umair Mirxa looks at a monster from a slightly different angle – boredom.

'Food Chain' by Joshua D. Taylor presents a life cycle that is not quite ordinary.

'Collector Of Souls' by J.D.Bell takes an old adage and twists it nicely.

'A Chance Encounter' by G.Allen Wilbanks starts cute and ends up… not so cute.

'Feeding Time' by G.Allen Wilbanks is, basically, what it says on the tin.

'Medusa's Den' by Pamela Jeffs is a sympathetic look at the titular character.

'Who Else?' by R.G. Halstead is the contemplation just before the killing starts.

'Mermaid' by Jill Hand is told from the point of view of the monster in question.

'The Beats Of Hillfort' by Graham Robert Scott is a cautionary tale of being aware of which monster you get rid of.

'The Deal' by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt tells the tale of a deal with a twist ending.

'Reflection' by Kyle Harrison tells a nice little mirror tale with the perfect final line.

'Cannibal Nurse' by Rowanne S. Carberry is, well, again, it is what it says in the title.

'Choices' by Joel R. Hunt is another tale with a really cool twist at the end. Possibly my favourite story in the book.

'Wolf' by Sinister Sweetheart is a poem about, well, a werewolf, with, again, a twist. I've done a few drabble poems – they are really tough and this author has done so well with this one.

'Rorrim' by Alanna Robertson-Webb is another mirror tale with a sad little ending.

'Of Demi Gods And Chimera' by Pamela Jeffs is another story where the tale is told from the opposite point of view to that which we're used to.

'Killers' by S.Gepp continues the reverse story-telling, this time with a more traditional monster being the hunted.

'The Beast' by Michael D. Lackey is yet another mirror tale (they seem to be particularly well-written in this collection) with, again, a twist ending.

'Giving Thanks' by Stuart Conover is a vampire story but I love the ending, and another of my favourites in the book.

'The Power Of Imagination' by R.J. Meldrum is a well-done tale of a writer falling prey to his imagination.

'A Different Kind Of Monster' by E.L. Giles is possibly the most disturbing story in the collection for just how true it rings.

As you went through this, you probably noticed that a few authors appeared multiple times, which shows that some authors must have connected with me quite well.

Again, these were my 20 favourites. I am sure someone else will have a completely different list. But these are the ones I preferred. Still, not a bad way to start things, I reckon.

This is another great collection from Black Hare Press. I thoroughly recommend it.
You can order you copy here:
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I think i am about to dabble in Drabble...
by May Cross (score: 3|6900) 335 days ago
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