4 out of 4 stars
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The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a large and varied collection of William H. Coles trip into the dark side of the mortal experience. There are 36 stories with wide-ranging themes that include betrayal, death, murder, sex trafficking, grief, complicated relationships, and loss, including two short novels and a novella rounding out the collection. Artists Peter Healy, Betty Harper, David Riley, Anna Sokolova, and Dilleen Marsh provide the colorful artwork in this vast collection. Two comic book versions of Coles stories by Peter Healy are a nice surprise.
I have to be honest. I don't always look deeply into a book before I'm about to read it, especially if it's a collection of short stories. I enjoy the short trips into other worlds almost always. When I read about three of these stories I wondered if I really wanted to continue. I'm not into dark fiction and there was a lot of it here. I decided to read another and its very abrupt ending was like riding a roller coaster that came to a sudden stop. I felt a strange sense of elation and I laughed out loud. It broke the sense that I needed to take these stories as anything more than a ride through a fun-house. The author has a few of these very abrupt endings.
William H. Coles is very obviously an accomplished author. Every story pulls you in right away. His descriptions are three-dimensional enough to give you a clear image without boring you with unimportant details. Each story is widely different than the next. Each character is unique. The fact that he is able to weave such full experiences in so few pages is masterful.
If the reader is looking for happily ever after, you won't find it here. But if you want a ride through the dark side, you'll enjoy this collection. The thing I liked most about this book was the variety and uniqueness of each story. The writing was that good.
I was even more impressed when I decided to go online and look William H. Coles up. His bio is very impressive and certainly worth your time. He's won numerous awards for his writing. He has quite an impressive resume in things beyond writing stories. He also answers comments and inquiries on his bio page personally. I have to give this collection 4 out of 4 stars. The writing, editing, and artwork are all excellent.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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