Reviews are coming in thick and fast for this chapbook of short stories and I have been firm in not reading any of them before putting my two penneth on paper, so as not to find things I hadn’t thought of in them or be influenced in any way.
I am aware, however, that Brennan is getting some rather positive reviews for this collection and I can understand why for he is a master storyteller and the talent shines through, short as it may be. I wondered if I should say it was too short but I’m feeling that this is more of a taster of Brennan’s work than anything else and if so, it’s a nice spread of his style.
As an editor and publisher though I was astounded by how badly packaged the whole thing was, being that the contents page was not even in the same world as the stories themselves and while this may seem like a petty criticism, I find these things irritating. It is the publisher’s right to make sure that an author’s work is the best it can be and these things do not help those in the small press industry who are trying to pull away from the ‘weaker literature’ tag we have been labelled with.
But… back to the stories and even though I felt that there was a clear sense of Brennan’s style and writing finesse here, in terms of enjoyment there was a wider spectrum.
Blood Bath was a good one to start with, short and to the point (or rather three points) and giving you an idea where the collection is headed. Steele Guitar was a fun one for me, encapsulated by a great one-liner ending that had me chuckling for the rest of the day. 925 was also well done and I liked the ending (something that Brennan seems to have a rather good grip on).
Road Rage is easily my least favourite, as whether in comedy or straight horror; demon cars just do not do it for me. I have to say I liked the suggestion here and there that this may all be in the head of the driver but then again it wasn’t enough for me to be swayed. Road Rage had a more interesting plot than Christine but I’m more than happy enough leaving these things well alone.
An Irish Possession was fun more than anything else and I believe that Brennan himself got a real kick out of this one, being as he was able to really let his ancestry and background come through in the characters. This one is a story to remember.
Would you be Interested? Has a great twist and, as with Blood Bath, has been placed where it should be in the collection. It’s a well crafted piece and is a satisfying conclusion.
All in all I was more impressed by Brennan’s style and deftness with a story, than the stories themselves and even though I did enjoy these I am sure there is much more to come. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to see his work already though, this is as good a place as any to start.