4 out of 4 stars
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Short stories of terror, acceptance, forbidden affairs, and yearning for love await. Each character brings their own voice to their own stories, as they all face the challenges of life and their choices. Readers may empathize or find their own story within Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles.
Honestly, I could not stop reading these short stories. And I only did stop because my head was throbbing from staring at the screen for too long. But you’re here for the review, not my personal woes. At first, I frightened myself with how many pages this book had. However, when I started, the page count went out the window. Each story had me entranced, drawn in. This is one of the first collections of short stories that I actually enjoyed in a long time.
At first, I could not decide which my favorite was so I highlighted a few. Some of my favorites were the stories about overcoming despite all odds; The Gift, Suchin’s Escape from sex trafficking or facing a Dilemma, which is the shortest story of them all; one page. Wow. Coles literally grabbed my heart and squeezed, and twisted it in all sorts of directions. Basically, my emotions were all over the place with this one. I have no idea what I would do, as a parent, in that situation. So kudos, I’m still thinking about this one. I am a fan of so many genres when it comes to reading, and this collection had them all. I have favorites, but really I did not dislike any of them. I may not want to reread some of them, but I still enjoyed them.
At the end there are two graphic novels, Homunculus and Reddog, and a novella, SISTER CARRIE. The graphic novels are based on two previously written short stories and the novella is a stand-alone. I did like the graphic novels because the illustrations matched with how I pictured the scenery and the people in each story. Plus, there are already one or two illustrations before each of those stories. To me, they helped with setting the story, they did not take away from it all. I liked the simplicity of the illustrations and it’s as if the story was written around that picture. I also noticed that there are mentions or emphasis on God in the majority of the stories, I liked that tie-in.
One thing about the novella, though, I did not know what was going to happen throughout and I still cannot believe that is what actually happened. For myself and one of the main characters, it was such a back and forth of question and suspicion. At the end, I literally yelled, “Wow, we were all wrong!” When an author makes me yell out or talk back to the story, they have done well. And this is that one. Whether I did that, cried, laughed or smiled, each story for me can be left just as it ended. I was not left wanting and wanting more. I did want to jump in and hug a character or two, but they will be okay.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I noticed a few errors, but none prominent enough to ruin any of these stories. In all truth though, I may have missed some. Sometimes something is so good you’re not looking for mistakes. (But really, there are rarely any). As a reader, you can tell it was professionally edited. I believe there is a story or two for almost anyone; young adult and older, in this collection. I really hope others enjoy this as much as I did.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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