Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book Review: Strangely Twisted Vol 3 by RG Austin

The cover is...oh dear. Given that some of these stories features people in an 'out of world' setting, I would have expected having an atmospheric piece-perhaps something foggy with unknown creatures in the distance, or perhaps an eerie empty-looking building. What I did not expect was someone who arguably looks like a reject from Cirque Du Soleil to be on the cover. To be fair to the author, her previous books do have a more fitting picture on the cover. It just really misses the mark on this one.

Since this is a collection of stories I will be reviewing them on their individual merits.

Soul Takers: A kidnapper has taken a young girl in the woods, but discovers two ladies hiking nearby who strangely know a lot about him. Overall, this is an enjoyable first story. The relationship between Bee and Pat is interesting and there is a great deal of mystery between these two characters. I do wish there was some a bit more development between them as well, but overall it was fun to read. 3.5/5

Suspended Bardo: A woman has lost her memory and is trapped on the streets while it seems that few want to help her. I like this as a good atmospheric story and the world she is trapped in by itself is very interesting. I do have to question why she didn't go to police when she realizes she has lost her memory. The author explains that she is too terrified, but doesn't go into detail why. But it's a minor nitpick. 4/5

Pine Hill: A mental patient is writing about other patients while the doctors ask her where her Grandma is. I did enjoy her description of other patients, but the ending is a bit confusing. The author has a twist ending, but having it more developed would have gone a long way towards a satisfying conclusion. 3/5

Cleaning for Jesus: A woman with an alcohol problem is hired to clean an empty building at night. But something else seems to be in the building with her. By far this is the best story out of the collection. Gladys is well developed and her being trapped in an empty building is very atmospheric, particularly since she doesn't have a chance to leave if she loses her keycard. The ending is also very enjoyable and clever. 5/5

Mara Luk Thep: A man who has lost his daughter buys a doll in an attempt to comfort his wife. This is a pretty good story with a satisfying beginning and end as the man tries to determine why the doll is talking to him. I do wish for more of the conflict between Thomas and his wife, as that was by far the most interesting part of the story for me. I know why his wife left part-way through the story, but when she did the rest of the story didn't quite grab me anymore. 3/5

Misdiagnosed: This story focuses on two women living together-one who is a murderer and the other who is too terrified to leave her house. I actually think this story might have been far more interesting and stronger if the two women interacted, but instead it's split between them. The ending also has an 'aha' moment but is more of a head scratcher. Overall I didn't enjoy this as much as the other stories, as it could have been more. 2.5/5

The Head in the Window: A man sees a woman holding a head in the corner of his bedroom, even though others can't. For some reason, the writing on this story can be a tad confusing, which pulled me out of the story. For example, at the start of the story his girlfriend, Lizzy, had asked him to meet her before going out with the guys. One paragraph later she is gone and he is drinking at home. So he didn't go out with the guys? Or had that already happened? The story is somewhat interesting towards the middle, but the ending requires careful reading to understand it fully. 2.5/5

The Imposter: A man is seeking his wife who ran away from him, who has taken the position of a psychiatrist. So why does the psychiatrist look nothing like his wife? This is definitely an interesting story from beginning to end. The ending also has a satisfying conclusion, although there was a bit of confusion as to who was currently in the house and where in the last scene. 3/5

The Chimera and the Blonde: A husband and wife play a cat and mouse game as the husband is slowly poisoned. This is a great read from start to finish as I loved seeing the wife's spiteful plan slowly unfold. And the ending has some great horror elements. 4.5/5

OVERALL GRADE: 3/5 out of 5. The stories which had a developed ending usually worked better for me than the ones having a 'ah ha!' conclusion, which could sometimes be confusing. This is an author which definitely has a writing voice which can draw the reader in, as long as the story is sufficiently developed.

Strangely Twisted Vol 3 can be found here.

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