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Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen…
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Gifts for the One Who Comes After

by Helen Marshall

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Surreal and bizarre, these short stories plumb the depths of loss, family, and relationships. Favorites include: "The Hanging Game", "The Santa Claus Parade", and "We Ruin the Sky". ( )
  RossWhippo | Jun 26, 2017 |
This review originally appeared at GnomeReviews.ca.

I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway from Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

This collection contains seventeen very weird and very wonderful short stories, all written by Helen Marshall. She has a talent for exploring everyday human interactions by adding a slight hint of the supernatural or the odd.

One of the best stories in the collection is “The Hanging Game.” In this disturbingly weird tale, parents pass on a twisted and dangerous game to their children, with unsettling results. This story is available for free on Tor.com, and anyone who likes this story will enjoy the rest of the collection.

Another highlight is “Secondhand Magic,” which is both heartwarming and disturbing at the same time, and explores the relationships between parents, children, and the community. A little boy with a stutter puts on a magic show for the neighbourhood and it doesn’t go according to plan.

“I’m the Lady of Good Times, She Said,” is another of the gnomes’ favourite stories. Readers will encounter Smiley, an alcoholic, and Juney, his long suffering wife, but also a heaping spoonful of weirdness.

In “Death and the Girl from Pi Delta” a sorority girl starts a relationship with Death, who calls himself David. Marshall covers years of their lives in very few words, and takes readers to unexpected places.

The gnomes recommend this collection to readers who enjoy their fiction on the weird side, and especially to fans of Nathan Ballingrud or Robert Shearman, who will find a new favourite in Helen Marshall.

Rating: 5 Gnomes out of 5 ( )
  gnomereviews | Nov 26, 2014 |
Disturbing. Creepy. Haunting.
The stories in this collection purport to explore the human condition by juxtaposing supernatural elements with ordinary interactions. Marshall succeeds in weaving compelling tales that frequently leave the reader breathless, wondering what just happened and what it means on a larger scale.
Reading this was not always enjoyable, but it was fascinating, particularly the tale which relates to the cover image, a dead kitten with fish scales.
If you like to be weirded out, but not in a cheesy way (the call was coming from inside the house!), this book is for you. I'm interested enough to check out more work by this author.
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher and NetGalley* ( )
  EmScape | Oct 10, 2014 |
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