Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: May We Shed These Human Bodies

Read 9/11/12 - 9/18/12
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of short stories that charm, intrigue, and warn...
Pgs: 145
Publisher: Curbside Splendor
Releases: Sept 30, 2012

Amber Sparks has a knack for saying a lot with very little. The short stories in this collection range anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages long, and yet they tell their story more clearly and more entirely than some novels I have read.

This book popped up on my radar way before the review copies were available. And the wait was almost excruciating. Curbside Splendor teased us with the book cover, which is lovely, and shared blurbs by Amelia Gray, Ben Lorry, Michael Kimball, and Matt Bell, all of whom I've read and adored. That's always a good sign. And the title is just amazing, isn't it? May We Shed These Human Bodies. I envisioned people unzipping their skin, letting it fall off their shoulders and puddle down around their feet, as their robot-like inner spirits step out and shine like ghosts.

While I didn't find a story quite like that one in the collection (you have to admit, that would have been a cool one), I did discover a bunch of excellent tales about ghosts, of both the motherly and haunting kind; twisted spins on Peter Pan and Paul Bunyan; a nursing home full of cannibals; a city that longs to travel; trees that become humans; and a magical, mysterious bathtub.

The one I enjoyed the most happened to be the very first one that I read - Death and the People. It's the story of Death, who has come to Earth to collect a soul. But the people of Earth have grown tired of Death sneaking in and stealing the ones they love, one by one. So they stand their ground and bully Death into taking them all. It's a wily, cunning little tale that kick starts the collection and sets the bar incredibly high!

Amber weaves a wicked web with her words, saying what needs to be said without spending a lot of effort, trusting that her audience will have no choice but to be sucked in. And sucked in, I was. Her stories read swiftly, sting fiercely, and then retreat quickly to make room for the next. Each little world she creates breathes hard and fast and lingers with us long after we leave it behind.

I'd be very interested in seeing what she can do with a full length novel.

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