Reading Room: A Heart for Mariah and other short stories by Jessica West

Book Title: A Heart for Mariah and other short stories – Storyteller, Book 2

Author: Jessica West

Publication Date: January 12, 2019

Available on: Amazon as an eBook

Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Jessica West is an author who specializes in telling dark and disturbing short stories, mostly in a horror vein. Each one is different and unique, always plumbing the depths of the supernatural. Want to find out how she does this? Read on to find out:

“A Heart for Mariah” – Medic Alpha 3, known as MA3, is a sentient android helping out in a hospital. Abused by his boss and treated like dirt, he feels something for Mariah’s precarious situation. What will he do to try to help her and why is her situation so dire?

“The Disturbing Visions of Imogen Schexnider” – jw-storytellerImogen is a woman who was unable to have a child of her own and adopted an infant named Alice. But when Imogen starts thinking about bad things that could potentially happen to Alice, it’s only a mother being overly concerned for her child, right?

“Villainous Origins” – When a young woman with a troubled past is walking home from work, she’s accosted by a malicious mugger and then she’s saved by a strange woman whom she calls Justice. But this isn’t the first time she’s met Justice and as we learn more about both of their pasts, we take a twisted tumble into the origin of a villain who commits troubling acts in the name of good.

“The Crying Boy” – A musician is given a chance to be an immortal rock star and live the good life. But the price of his fame might be too much to pay, especially for those is he close to!

“Friendship is Forever” – Kait is on a trip to a deserted cabin in the woods with her teenage high school friends, having suffered a tragedy many months ago. But what darkness waits for them in those woods and will they all make it out of this excursion alive? It’s a B-Movie in short story form, so did you think this was going to be a happy tale?!

jw-faith“Something Wicked” – Madison is a kid who is creeped out by someone in her school named Macey. But when Macey does something unexpected, how will Madison respond?

“Second Chance” – When technology saves Brian after he dies and comes back in a new body, 46-year-old Claire is less than ecstatic and even hesitant. Their marriage was stifling to her so now that he’s back, how will she handle it? There’s a catch to this revival and it proves to be crucial to how the story plays out.

“Djinn 2.0” – Seren is an alien cast out from her society for doing something disturbing and selfish. As a result, she’s banished to modern-day Earth until she learns her lesson and competes the mission given to her. Then, she’ll be allowed to return. But as an alien, Seren has the ability to transform from an apparition to a physical form and back at will. How will humans respond to her abilities and how will she use them to try to complete her mission?

Each story, no matter how short or how long they are, pulled on my emotional heartstrings. They can be deliciously devious and even unpredictably beautiful. But they all pack an emotional gut-punch while also exploring the nature of humanity and how that can be defined.

I also found them to be psychologically unsettling and to be so warped that it gave me goosebumps because of the cold terror it incited in my mind. They also expertly play on the deep fears we all secretly harbor but don’t share with anyone and amplifies it to suspenseful effect.

Some of these characters, I was repulsed by jw-questthem and their actions and saddened by the circumstances they find themselves in. Each one focuses on character development and then places them into a compelling story that I cannot stop reading. I always found myself invested in the story and was not able to put the book down, no matter how unnerving they made me.

Her stories always make me go “whoa!” when I read them, because of some twist or the depths of the darkness she brings to her stories. And the dialogue that each character speaks feels raw, brutal and honest to me. It is delectable and delightful to read as a result. That kind of emotional sincerity in a story is one of the author’s signature strengths to me and is a trait I admire the most about her writing.

This author, whom I’ve read before, writes not just dark stories but Dark stories that redefine what dark means. Each tale is harrowing and quite twisted and yet, draws me in with compelling characters and imaginative storytelling. Each story she writes is one I look forward to reading and this collection is a superb and masterful example of that.

If you found this review to be helpful to you, please click here to go to the review on Amazon. Then navigate to the bottom of this review and click on the “helpful” button.

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