Book Review: For When The Veil Drops by West Pigeon Press

16135257Title: For When The Veil Drops
Authors: A.A. Garrison, Paul L. Bates, Bryan Brown, Robin Wyatt Dunn, J.R. Hamantaschen, Christian Larsen, B.V. Lawson, Samuel Minier, Nick Medina, Doug Murano, Joshua Clark Orkin, Yarrow Paisley, Lydia Peever, Michael Trudeau, and Michael Wehunt
Genre: Short Story Collection, Anthology, Dark Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon, Goodreads

West Pigeon Press is honored to present its newest anthology, a collection of resonant, unbridled dark fiction. Unburdened by genre and disparate in subject, these stories find common cause in their emphasis on mood, style, intelligence, and emotional depth. West Pigeon is proud to release these stories under its banner, and is proud to have you as a reader.

Featuring all new stories by A.A. Garrison, Paul L. Bates, Bryan Brown, Robin Wyatt Dunn, J.R. Hamantaschen, Christian Larsen, B.V. Lawson, Samuel Minier, Nick Medina, Doug Murano, Joshua Clark Orkin, Yarrow Paisley, Lydia Peever, Michael Trudeau, and Michael Wehunt.

For When The Veil Drops is a dark fiction anthology released by West Pigeon Press featuring a large collection of authors. As a whole, the collection is pretty decent. It ranges from dark, surreal fiction to macabre, horrifying short stories. There is no red wire throughout the book though, it’s just dark fiction. I prefer anthologies focused on a certain theme, like haunted houses, gothic horror, or surreal horror, or something like that. At least then I know what to look for each time around, and I’m not a big fan of surprises. Here all I knew when starting to read was that the stories were dark fiction, but that’s a large umbrella for several subgenres. I do think West Pigeon Press focused on finding quality and that they, at least to some extent succeeded. Some stories were brilliant, others just didn’t work for me, but that’s normal with anthologies.

724 by Christian A. Larsen – This story was all right, but nothing special. It reminded me too much of Benjamin Button. I know it’s not the same, but I’ve read about this concept a lot of times before. Someone who can age at will, or changes from baby to eighty plus years old in a day. The way it was executed wasn’t that special or thought-provoking either. The main character lacked personality. Her reaction the first time she saw the signs something was up – namely, ignoring it and thinking she’d imagined it – didn’t strike me as believable. Her relationship with Owen was absurd, not because of what he was, but because they barely knew each other. Linnie didn’t ask entirely enough questions.

The Chopping Block by Doug Murano – I liked this one. A lot of things were left out in this story. Sometimes that doesn’t work, but here it did. The descriptions were well done as well. I liked the portrayal of the Papa figure.

The Persistence of Frondu by Yarrow Paisley – This wasn’t my taste. It had great potential, and I have to admit I liked the concept as well, but the execution fell a little flat. I kept on asking ‘why now’. Probably a pointless questions to ask because there always has to be a starting point, but I would’ve preferred if there was more indication as to why exactly the MC saw the frondu right at that precise moment. Anyway, from the start I had a feeling where this was going, and the ending didn’t surprise me. While I may not like surprises when it comes to genre, I do like surprises when it comes to stories themselves, which was lacking here.

Bless You by C. Bryan Brown – I actually heard about this legend before that when you sneeze, and nobody blesses you, your soul comes out. This urban legend or folklore has great potential to be turned into a scary story. The story itself started out promising, but lost track around halfway through. It was no longer something with potential to be scary, the ending was pretty obvious, and while I enjoyed reading to the end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit dissapointed. If Mark figured out what was up, couldn’t he have asked someone to bless him? Maybe that would’ve saved him. Or maybe not, but at least I felt like he could’ve tried.

A Coat That Fell by Michael Wehunt- I wasn’t sure what to think about this one. The sudden confession spree made no sense to me, and I still haven’t completely figured out what exactly was going on there. You don’t have to give me an entire plot, or explain everything, but a little more explanation would’ve made me a much happier reader.

The City Underneath by Robin Wyatt Dunn – The concept was compelling but too metaphysical to really speak to me. It was a bit too random for my likings.

Beside Still Waters by BV Lawson – Now this story was close to brilliance. Popular high school boys have been found murdered, and there’s no suspect in sight. Main character Rita is called a “retard” by most of her high school’s fellow pupils. She lives with her grandmother, Grammy, who the police decide to interrogate about the murders. I loved the concept of this story. The main character was truly three-dimensional, a noteworthy feat especially in a short story. The plot was fast, dark and thrilling. I had a hunch halfway through about what would happen, and I was right, but that didn’t make the reading experience any less pleasant. The writing was fluent and the story intriguing, and I loved the end.

The Condition She’s In by Nick Medina – This story was WOW. It started out pretty tame, albeit interesting, and I was curious of the direction it would take. Halfway through I was hooked and then came the end. All I can do is sit here and say WOW. An incredible storytelling feat, with an end I never saw coming.

St. Molluks by Paul L. Bates- Another great story. The middle part of this book seems filled with the best stories. There’s no real protagonist here, except if you think a building could be a protagonist, and that’s something unique, and intriguing. The story reminded me of those early, gothic, scary vampire stories. The concept here was original, but the story dragged here and there.

Thicker Than by Lydia Peever- Another winner. This time about a girl who sees her dead cousin everywhere. They used to be best friends, like the kind of friends who can almost talk without uttering a word. I liked the execution of this story, the slow build up to its inevitable climax. The story featured ghosts – hey, that’s always a bonus in my book – and some really creepy, amazing imaginary. I loved the writing style on this one as well.

The Third List by Samuel Minier – This was a pretty decent story as well. Imagine there’s a Santa Clause who comes to collect the bad kids to punish them. Billy definitely belongs in the category ‘bad kids’. I wasn’t sure what I was more freaked out by – Billy and what he’d done, or the evil version of Santa, but I think it was the first. Well written story with a nice twist at the end.

Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened Here by A. A. Garrison – This one was actually pretty scary for me, although I don’t know if that was the author’s intention. It was subtle and dark, and I kept imagining worse things to have happened. The unused room was scary to me, although I’m not sure if that was fully intended. Either way, I enjoyed this one.

Oh Abel, Oh Absalomby J.R. Hamantaschen – I liked the concept of this one, but not the execution. At least, not entirely. What if there was an organization out there that punished sinners? But punishing them in such harsh ways that the organization’s own morals can be called questionable at best? The concept surely is intriguing, but the story was a bit too long. It was the longest story in the book thus far, and it sounded like the author wanted it to be even longer at times. A lot of things were introduced that didn’t seem to matter, like the MC’s past, or his relationship with his fellow inmates while he was in prison, which dragged the story on and kept us from the real plot. When the story got past that, to the plot, it was interesting though. The main character, albeit having done some pretty bad stuff, isn’t entirely unlikeable. The organization’s morality left a big question mark for me though, and it’s actually pretty scary to think some people might be capable of setting something like this up. It’s a story of course, but it could essentially be possible. What the story’s strong point is though is that it shows us that sometimes by punishing those who did wrong, we can create an even bigger wrong. There has to be a set limit to what punishment is all right, and what isn’t.

Misery Don’t Wait On Me by Joshue Clark Orkin- This seemed like a rather loose collection of unrelated things. Or maybe it was related, and I didn’t get it. Anyway, this made me feel next to nothing. It was too random for my tastes.

Still Life by Michael Trudeau- This one was pretty good. It talked about human indecision, about being stuck in the same pattern over and over again. The writing was solid, the main character well-developed.

All in all, I enjoyed this collection and am looking forward to what West Pigeon Press decides to publish next.

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