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.THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER by Calvin Demmer
Published by Unnerving on June 5, 2018
Genres: Apocalyptic, Creature Feature, Crime, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Mystery, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Suspense
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The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.
THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER, is the first book I have read from author Calvin Demmer. There are 23 flash fiction stories in this collection, and–with only a couple of exceptions–I had assigned individual ratings of mostly five and four stars to each story. In a collection of any size, this is something I rarely do. You almost always have those stories that just don’t resonate with you, for whatever reason. In this book, however, I was able to really appreciate the writing and direction of nearly every tale.
What makes this book especially distinct, is the fact that all the entries are “flash fiction”. It can be difficult enough working in a suitable amount of storyline and characterization to get readers invested in a short story, but when you dramatically reduce the word count, this becomes a much greater challenge.
Yet, Calvin Demmer did just that.
In fact, he did it so well that a few of his tales are still popping into my mind even now, begging to be read again, or looked at from another angle.
Personal favorites of mine included:
—“On the Seventh Day”: A fantastic look at life, and justice, when living at sea. “On the sixth day, the other boat and its crew were visible . . . “
—“Fear the Clowns”: I can’t say much about this one other than “WOW!” It had a terrific set-up, and an even better ending.
—“The Sea Was a Fair Master“: If I had to pick one “favorite”, this would probably be it. This story had such an incredibly powerful impact that I keep finding myself thinking about it, even now. I found more in what I read “between the lines”, than in what was actually stated. “I’d learned to be out at sea for months at a time is no different from being on land. The sea was a fair master . . . “
—“Underneath”: “. . . People were evil, not houses . . . ” The dark humor in this one is what really made it stand out to me as a personal favorite . . . which probably says something about my sense of humor not being of the normal variety.
—“The One”: A romantic look at one man’s search for just the right gift for his “one and only”. (Yes, I’m aware that my sense of what constitutes romance, is also warped).
—“Letting the Dead Grow”: This cemetery groundskeeper has a LOT of respect for the dead.
—“Hangman”: We’ve all heard of Extreme sports, but Extreme English may be the toughest of all . . .
—“The Snakes or the Humans”: This one would have to be my “second” favorite–the implications of it still haunt me. A solid five stars! “The snakes or the humans?” After reading this tale, that question will haunt you, too. . .
Overall, I was overwhelmed at how powerful these short tales were, and at how much I enjoyed the entire collection. Calvin Demmer is a name I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, and I’m already hoping for more to come from him.
About Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.