4 out of 4 stars
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One of my greatest treats in reading a good story is surprises. I have a bad habit of guessing what is going to happen, knowing who the bad guy is, figuring out who will die or who will end up with whom, and it makes many stories fall flat for me. If I can figure out what is going to happen before I make it to the halfway point, I am hard pressed to continue reading. Geoff Sturtevant was generous enough to oblige me with his book Return to the Dirt. The book is three stories with a similar setting but very different circumstances and plots. I very much enjoyed reading all three, though the first was my favorite and the second my least favorite.
All three stories revolve around a man and his job. Each one has a different twist, but all three have a dark and terrifying aspect. There is not much about each one that I would want to say specifically, as it would be very easy to spoil the fun in reading these to someone. I did think it was interesting that only the first story had a protagonist who really knew what company he was working for and what the dark secret to the company was. The other two had misleading minor jobs and, by one scenario or another, stumbled into the scary truths of what happens behind the closed doors of these unassuming places.
This book is for an older crowd, 18 years or older, due to the violent content involved. The gore is there, but not overdone or unnecessary. The scenes are well written and very visually compelling, as were the protagonist. All three of the men had simplistic lives, lower end income situations, and believable positions that made their stories not only plausible, but easy to relate to. The second story was the only one that held a bit of a science fiction or supernatural feel and explanation to the horror part of the story. This may be why I had a harder time feeling as sucked into that story over the other two. With the first story and the last one, I could fell the legitimacy of a man trying to make a living and get by, and the desperation they had to stick with the dirty truth of the company they have decided to work for.
There were very few to no bad grammar or spelling errors in the story. I felt that they moved along at a decent pace and didn’t linger too long on unnecessary descriptions. The only time I felt a little bored was in the second book when the main character is describing his day to day with his new roommate from work. I understood the fear of having him live there and betraying the Organization (the group that ran the dark and dirty behind the curtains of his job), and the oddness of sharing his home with the old man, but I didn’t feel that it was engaging enough for me to feel more invested in the story.
In all, I was pretty satisfied with these stories. If you like short horror stories, like something from Nightmares and Dreamscapes or Repo Man, then you will enjoy these three stories. I almost gave three stars for this read, because of how much I disliked the second story compared to the other two, but I really think that is more of my personal taste and not an issue with the story itself. In all, I would give this 4 out of 4 and a big thank you to Geoff for his book.
Return to the Dirt
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