Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 31
Editor: Jessica West
Publication Date: February 1, 2019
Available on: Amazon as an eBook, a paperback and as an audiobook
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
It’s Valentine’s Day in the Canyons and love is in the air! But this isn’t ordinary love, it’s love in twisted forms, in a way only Canyons can tell it! Open your heart-shaped box of chocolates and find out what stories are inside, starting with:
Hunter C. Eden’s “Fortune Cookies” – Shirley has a complaint about Great Wall Foods and the fortunes her son gets from inside their fortune cookies. The story starts with Shirley leaving a voicemail and it then transforms from a story about a complaining parent into something more sinister and completely unexpected. I marveled at the twist it took, how it got there and the flashes of humor hiding inside this gruesome tale.
D.K. Cassidy’s “That Time of Year” – Delilah loves Valentine’s Day and replaces her mattress every year at this time. On the prowl for a date on this special day, she finds one that satisfies her. But how will this date end? I was wowed by where the story went, Delilah’s origins and how the finale was darkly exquisite.
David Alan Jones’ “The Pairing Witch” – Princess Neorah is going to be married to someone she’s never met and Della is the witch who is going to perform the pairing spell to prepare their matrimony. After riding in her carriage to the prince’s castle, Della eventually runs into a startling obstacle. I completely loved how the story played out, how magic is utilized here, the characterization of the prince and how Della attempts to overcome this out-of-left-field complication.
Holly Heisey’s “Similar” – Using flashbacks to tell the love story of Matt and Brent, we learn about how a strange living black mass manifests in their living room along with a blackbird (!). What the mass is and why the blackbird is there blends perfectly with the love story and how it exposes the cracks in their relationship. It’s a beautiful but sad expression of love and how imagination is creatively utilized in this innovative and touching tale.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “#Eddie_and_June” – June is the good girl teenager who hits it off with bad boy Eddie in school. After realizing they have much in common, she starts to think Eddie is her soul mate. As they go on a series of increasingly challenging misadventures and wind up on the run from the police, they post their pictures to Instagram and become celebrities. But how will their story end? Their love story is endearing and poignant, imbuing them with a joy of life that was infectious. It’s a journey I became more invested in with each page and when it reached its unexpectedly stunning ending, I was upset and moved at the same time.
With all of these warped and diverse versions of love, it’s inevitable that they be heartbreaking, horrifying or just plain surprising. Connections form through unlikely relationships over voicemails, meeting in a gallery and from being on the run from the law. Add in women seeking a sexual partner they want and using magic for matrimonial purposes, love is a many-splendored thing that spurs people to do all sorts of things.
Break out the flowers and candy for your valentine to make sure that your love lives never as complicated or as unsettling as this! Thankfully, fiction can take our hearts to unusual places and this compelling collection of short stories delightfully delivers on that promise.
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