I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT WELL ENOUGH ALONE by Ronald Malfi
Published by JournalStone on November 2, 2017
Genres: Crime, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Noir, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense, Thriller, Weird Tales
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A new mother is pursued by mysterious men in black. A misguided youth learns the dark secrets of the world from an elderly neighbor on Halloween night. A housewarming party where the guests never leave. A caretaker tends to his rusted relic of a god deep in the desert...
In his debut short story collection, Bram Stoker Award finalist Ronald Malfi mines the depths and depravities of the human condition, exploring the dark underside of religion, marriage, love, fear, regret, and hunger in a world that spins just slightly askew on its axis. Rich in atmosphere and character, Malfi's debut collection is not to be missed.
WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT WELL ENOUGH ALONE is a collection of 20 short stories by Ronald Malfi. These stories range from psychological horror, atmospheric horror, outright horror, thriller, supernatural, and to the inexplicably “weird”, in terms of content. As in all story collections, different topics will “connect” with different readers. Going by the huge variety of theme in this volume, I feel confident that aficionados of horror, mystery, and strange tales will ALL find something here that will appeal to them.
Previously, I’ve know Malfi through some of his amazing novels and novellas. It was quite the treat to get a taste of some of his shorter works in this collection. Many of the stories contained a great deal of “mental” power–meaning, they got into my head and had me virtually “seeing things” through the eyes of the main character.
Additionally, the variation in point-of-view used was ideally suited to each individual story. I felt that this was a particular strength of Malfi’s–knowing just whose voice should be telling each tale, in order for us to get the most from it.
Personal favorites included:
—“Closing In”: You know what they say about Karma . . .
—“Discussions Concerning the Ingestion of Living Insects”: “The only way to beat God is to never die . . . “ Part mental, part nauseating, this story of an injured soldier’s thoughts and deeds will linger in your own for some time! “Evil people . . . are afraid to die.”
—“Pembroke”: An odd book mistakenly delivered to a small bookstore becomes Mr. Pemroke’s obsession. “. . . You should have left well enough alone.”
—“The House on Cottage Lane”: A boy and his two friends regret teasing another. “. . . I’m responsible for the stones I throw and for the windows I break.”
—“Learned Children”: This tale has creepy children AND a scarecrow! How could you possibly go wrong?
—“The Good Father”: A “good father” should know what’s best for his children . . .
—“The Dinner Party”: This is the first story in the collection, and the one I simply can’t get out of my mind! I want to call this one psychological horror, but the truth is that it fits well into several sub-genres. All I can say is that you really need to read this one!
Overall, I found this “themeless” collection to have a lot of genuinely unique ideas. While not all of them worked for me, I believe that the different subject material will have something that appeals to most everyone. Malfi’s versatility as a writer is what impresses me the most in this book. As the majority of the tales DID leave a lasting–five-star–impression on me, I have to say it’s one of the best collections I’ve read this year.