Published by Hippocampus Press on 2009-08
Genres: Fiction, Horror
Each of the seven tales that Michael Aronovitz brings together in his first collection of stories is a powerful, hard-hitting specimen of contemporary weird fiction. From
I can’t say enough about the quality of Michael Aronovitz’s writing–his is a style that is truly a pleasure to immerse myself in! In this collection of seven tales (one of which is a novella), there were those that I enjoyed to a greater extent than some others, naturally. The novella-length story, “Toll Booth” was alone worth the price of this book. This was a story that tells the tale of one fateful day in a young boy’s life that changed his world forever. Sounds simple enough when I put it like that, but there was so much MORE in between the lines written. The atmosphere and sense of isolation, penance, and self-directed duty were so well done that I felt almost a silent witness to this boy’s life. By far, my favorite in the collection–one that begged to be read in a single sitting. Solid 5 stars.
Two other favorites of mine were “The Legend of the Slither-Shifter”, and “How Bria Died”. In the first tale, the following quote (taken in the context of the text) really got me: “But magic was for nerds and wishes for babies. Weren’t they?” The story of neglect, “magic”, and finding a friendship where least expected was a real gem. The story “How Bria Died”, tells of a legend used by a teacher to capture his students’ attention, which turns around to teach HIM the lesson… “Turn a promise to a lie, and you will be the next to die.” A beautifully written piece that shows horror in a place you’d least expect.
“The Clever Mask” takes a stark look at society and the “masks” we wear in order to keep our egos/real desires in check. 4 stars.
“Quest For Sadness’ tells the story of a man attempting to feel sorrow for…..anything. Instead, he finds more joy in the act of destruction…. 4 stars.
“The Exterminator” takes an interesting, introspective look at sanity. 3 stars. “Passive Passenger” was perhaps my least favorite in the collection. Not a bad story by any means, it just didn’t capture me the way some of the others did. 2.5 stars.
Overall, a great collection from Michael Aronovitz! I’ve already ordered another collection from this author.