Book Title: And Then Begin Again: Six Tales of Hope – Dark Collections, Book 2
Author: Ann Christy
Publication Date: December 7, 2016
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
In this collection, the author has put together six short stories about the darkness in the world and the life we try to make despite it. She counters this darkness with something more positive, such as love and hope, providing a glimmer of light to help shine the way through the difficult times. And there are quite a few of those, starting with:
“Sedge” – Miriam is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives on another planet as part of an interstellar project to make it more habitable. While her mother works, Miriam has some activities she keeps secret but not for the reasons you might think, including seeing a local named Abram. This is a quiet but beautiful love story of two people from divergent backgrounds sharing a common belief, while a larger war rages in the background, which has an unanticipated impact on them.
The Mirroring – Julie is a school counselor at a prestigious private school where three girls are all experiencing the same problem – believing the way they physically look is changing for the worse. How can Julie help these teens solve their unusual problem? The answers are far from obvious and the story proceeds unpredictably into a conclusion that I would never have guessed. This is a nuanced story layered with some psychological complexity and a difficult dilemma for Julie to solve.
“Life/Time in the New World” – Darren is a powerful and driven man trying to attain something only his wealth could get him – a trip 300 years into the future utilizing suspended animation. When he wakes up, what will he find and how will he adjust? A crafty and tantalizing tale about being careful what you wish for, with an unexpected twist and a delicious ending that made me grin with delight.
“Unnatural” – in September 1978, Pope John Paul gets ready to give a sermon endorsing in-vitro fertilization. Fast forward two hundred years later, we meet Eldora, who’s talking to her mother about the possibilities of natural childbirth, defying societal norms. But will her family understand her decision? Overall, this is a very powerful, emotional and engrossing story boldly imagined where the characters personal motivations are vividly described and their viewpoints cogently argued.
“Yankari” – Eight-year-old Olisa dutifully observes big game hunters make camp in the outer reaches of the Yankari National Park and Game Preserve in Nigeria, Africa. Watchful over these interlopers trying to break the law, something unthinkable happens, quickly turning into a life-threatening situation that culminates in a powerful ending that reverberates not only across Yankari but affects the entire world in an impactful way. It also features jarring, thrilling action that completely immerses you in the story.
“Lulu Ad Infinitum” – In the future, Lulu is in an emergency escape pod, trying to figure out what happened to her and her ship. But when you’re the only one on board and everyone else is now lost, how are you supposed to prepare planets for colonization? As Lulu faces these harsh realities, she’s forced to come up with innovative and ingenious solutions just so she can survive and accomplish her mission.
I liked the way some of these stories included insightful notes from the author talking about the origin of that tale and her thoughts about them.
Each of these stories pulls you into them, as they are all engaging, delightful and boldly imagined. The characters are all fascinating in their own way, presented with intriguing dilemmas, difficult problems and are forced to come up with inventive solutions in a way that the reader will never expect. These dilemmas force the characters to look inside themselves, find their inner strengths and use them to solve the problem through sheer force of will, testing their mettle like they have never been tested before.
The dialogue between characters is also very natural and distinct, as the author really excels at doing this. It adds to the overall flow of the story while imbuing these characters with qualities that you admire and sometimes even loathe, making them feel real and truly human. Either way, you cannot help but feel something as you read each story, as they are quite moving.
Overall, this is another impressive collection utilizing the author’s strengths to create imaginative stories that completely envelop you in their worlds.
If you enjoyed the stories in this book, I would encourage you to also read the first volume in the author’s “Dark Collections” series because it’s an excellent collection as well: The Ways We End: Six Tales of Doom (Dark Collections Book 1). The Indie Athenaeum review for that title is here.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Ann Christy include “Girard The Guardian – A True Vampire Novel” and “Bridge Across the Stars – A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology.”