Sunday, 5 February 2017

Book Review - On The Day Of The Dead

This is an interesting anthology of short stories submitted to Black Pear Press for their 2016 Short Story Competition. As is usually the case with these sort of anthologies there are stories that I loved and stories that didn't connect with me. However, in the spirit of being encouraging to my fellow writers, I will concentrate on the positive in my review.

I must start with the winning story after which the anthology is named. On The Day Of The Dead by Anne Wilson is a bitter sweet tale of love and loss. I loved the character of Mathias Mori who has lost his wife and longs for her to return to him on the Day of the Dead. The setting is beautifully drawn, evoking a Mexican village with its dust and heat.

The Photographer by Graeme Hall is a study of obsession. I got a feeling of deep sadness as I followed Ted around his home photographing his possessions. The ending is poignant and in a way  the only way the story could have ended.

The Scent of Apples by Natasha Bland took me back to my days as a new mother and the sense of isolation that being at home with a young baby brought. The relationship between Olivia and Mrs White is touching and the growing confidence Olivia feels leaves the story on a positive note.

Cromwell and The Fools by Elizabeth Hopkinson is a curious story which imagines Oliver Cromwell visiting a village of fools. While there he is sentenced to complete three strange tasks during his life, including having his famously unflattering portrait painted. I was drawn to this strange story as where I live there is a tradition of electing a street mayor which has its origins in the Medieval fools. I loved the depiction of the Fool's village, it seemed such a happy place, a real contrast to the Puritan society ushered in under Cromwell.

Until Four by Graeme Hall speaks of lost opportunities and missed chances. The narrator remembers an encounter with Kate, whom he loves but never really gets together with. He wonders what would have happened if events had turned out differently. I'm sure we've all wondered how our lives would have been if we had made different decisions or if we'd chosen another love.

The Flower Shop by Christine Wallah also touched me. I really felt for Myra who longs to fill her life with something other than being a housewife. She feels tied to the home by Allan who thinks her place is in the home. The twist at the end is delicious and had me cheering for Myra.

All in all this is an enjoyable anthology with some little gems within its pages. I shall look out for the 2017n  competition and may even submit something myself.



  1. Sounds like an interesting anthology - thanks for sharing. And I love the new look for your blog!

    1. Thanks Maddy! Always scary changing anything but I think it looks better now.

  2. A comprehensive review - good to see a book of short stories, I love to take 'shorts' on plane / train journeys.

    1. Thanks Polly. I too like the dip-in nature of short story anthologies, so convenient some times.