Shards: a short story anthology by C.J Cummings

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Hellllllo readers I have a really interesting book of short stories to share with you today. It’s very rare that I would be sent a collection of books that make an anthology but I’m really excited to have received this and have it to review for you today. In terms of my review schedule I am about month ahead now in terms of what needs posting but I will get them all read and up for you soon. Without delay: THE REVIEW.

Like a box of lost and found, Shards is a dive into fiction and all its wonderful edges. Tales of life and of death; war and poetry; monsters with fangs and creatures with claws; the weird and the woeful; the realism and the obscure. It is a journey into the back of a brain, deep in the tunnels of imagination, where the most unusual and brilliant and terrible ideas are born.

An anthology of twenty brand-new works of short-fiction: Science-fiction, Weird, Abstract, Fantasy, Dystopian, Contemporary, Horror, War & More. A love-letter to the written word.

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Gah some of these stories are real stunners. The anthology is total mix of different stories and contexts. The first few are very subtle stories There are subject matters than appear once or twice, especially the writing of intense emotion. ‘A busy doorway’ is a beautiful tale of two people who are saying goodbye at an airport the emotion that the author manages to get into the tale and the use of words to give the characters description despite it being a very short tale is skilfully done. The ending was very endearing and difficult to read but it just summed it all up without tying it up in a really finished bow. Delightful. ‘Just Right,’ was another romantic tale that just fell into the readers hands; the author has a definite way of writing to really tell a tale with the characters without needing long descriptions or lots of backstory. It’s a very sweet tale and one I really enjoyed. The two characters continually meet at different coincidental opportunities and although maybe a little twee I thought it was beautiful.

Some of the stories also take on a darker turn especially ‘Soil in the eye,’ is a very dark tale, it tells of a person being buried alive but the emotion driven into the story makes you feel as if you’re there with quaking in the box, feeling the oxygen slowly slip away. More subtle stories including ‘Facing the right’ and ‘The Light’ tend to be more soft stories revolving around the telling of the tale rather than telling a story. Due to them being so short they do have an abstract feel but for me I thought it just added to the authors ability to weave such delicate stories. This is shown most in the tale ‘The Still Bridge,’ it’s so atmospheric and different to the earlier tales I thought it was beautifully done.

My favourite of the tales I think was ‘The Aching Vengeance’ one of the stories towards the start of the anthology. The tale shows an old cowboy who has been searching for his daughter for many many years and after wandering into a bar it all starts to get a bit messy. The story shows Cumming’s ability to string together a powerful tale in only a couple of pages and the story really stayed with me. It’s a very dark tale but one I thought was really intriguing.

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There were a couple of stories that did fall short, ‘Sunday Night Movie Massacre,’ felt a little rushed and didn’t fully explore enough into the monster to make me believe in such a tale, and the story before ‘The Town Built on tragedy’ didn’t give enough to end the tale and make a lot of sense to the reader. I think it was a really interesting start but there wasn’t quite enough to make me feel that, oh wow feeling. There are a few near misses but most of spot on.

Overall this is a really brilliant complation of different tales with different contexts, characters and stories. Some of the stories I felt had too much content to be tied up too quickly and lacked a little more information but I thought the experimentation with style and genre was really exciting. I’ve just seen the author has another book and I might just have to give that a good. If you like short stories or want to read some really superb ones, this is a compilation for you.

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