Thursday, December 8, 2011

The New Death and Others by James Hutchings

If you like your short stories cynical and twisted, or your fairy tales fractured, then this is a perfect coffee table book full of cynical and twisted tales, interspersed with some very good dark poetry.

Mr Hutchings left a message on this blog asking if I would read and review his book.  I had put the call out to ‘independent authors’ in an earlier post for my 2012 Reading List, but I think this was a random request and I’m so pleased to have been asked as this little book really tickled my sense of humour and touched those dark chords that draw me to unsettling and unusual fiction.

I have never read a book quite like this, it has no particular order, being a total mix of work which makes it perfect for picking up and selecting a page at random. I didn’t like some of the stories, but I did appreciate most of them, and the poetry I thought was wonderful.

An obvious cat lover, there are several references to cats throughout, such as the disturbing How the Isle of Cats Got Its Name and the gorgeous little poem My Cat is Not Like Other Cats, which all of us cat lovers can definitely identify with!  In The Death of the Artist it is revealed that all writers and artists have cats, a fact which takes on a sinister significance; and now I fully understand that when my Tenshi is staring intently at nothing she is actually enhancing her mental powers!!

Of all the short stories I really liked the atmospheric The Scholar and the Moon which has less of the cynicism that prevails in most of the other work, and the nightmarish The Dragon Festival. The poetry, as I have said, is very good with some of it being based on actually stories by Lovecraft, Dunsany and an author I have only just recently ‘discovered’ - Clark Ashton Smith.

Yes, some of the stories are corny or just plain silly, but others have a touch of sheer brilliance to them. If you tend to get bogged down with some heavy reading, which I do on occasion, this is a breath of fresh air.  I didn’t want to put it down, and looked forward to the twisted endings and the clever play on words and ideas.  Even the corny stories got a giggle as well as a groan out of me.

It’s on Smashwords and if you want to inject a bit of random fun into your reading,  I recommend you check it out:


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