Ok first things first, this short story collection is full of adult content. It deals with the very dark and disturbing aspects of human nature; there are a lot of parts that are difficult to read, and can be quite upsetting, so if you are particularly sensitive this probably isn't the book for you. However, Henry Martin's writing is so skilful and the way he has put this collection together is truly something special, so if you are still intrigued by the end of this review I would definitely give it a go.
Summary: "...an eerie glimpse into the lives of over twenty diverse characters. Spanning many fiction genres - often dark and disturbing - this collection of twenty-eight unrelated stories delves into the disquiet thoughts that lie deep within our consciousness." (taken from the excerpt on the Amazon Kindle website).
Naturally, there are some stories I preferred more than others. Stories like 'Being True To Self' genuinely horrified me to the point where my initial response was so negative I didn't think it should have been included at all, whereas others like 'The Beginning' are focused character studies that allow you to explore a certain psyche in as much depth as possible, and Martin has cleverly positioned them in the collection to slow down the pacing and allow readers brief respite. Stories like 'Love is a Damned Thing' and 'Sometimes it's Better to Give than Receive' are genuinely surprising in their softer tone, and he conveniently saves these for the latter half of the collection, almost as treats for readers who have endured the truly twisted tales and gotten this far.
Full list of the 28 titles and my brief thoughts:
I found the best way to read this collection is in breaks - I wouldn't suggest reading this from cover to cover in one sitting, simply because I think it would prevent you from appreciating each story individually. They also carry so much of an impact that sometimes it is better to have a break between them; for example, I read this when I was on the train or the tube and I found it was a good way of absorbing the events and themes without them completely taking over my mind.
Published by Avni Bhagwan