Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers
I wanted to love this collection. I really did. But the more I read the more confusing some of the stories became. The first one, Going Down was definitely fun. As well as The Grave which was probably the best, Prison was well written if not cliche and done before. And The Cleaner, okay maybe this one was actually my fave, was so fun. Even still they all had their issues, and the rest were not nearly as interesting as expected.
The wedding was hard to get into. I kept trying hard to figure it out as I read it and couldn’t quite make sense of it. I had to think hard about it after I had read it before I got it. Even with the little twist ending. It was almost, like most of these were, so intentionally vague the reader spends too much time trying to figure it out instead of falling into it. I honestly knew where it was going the confusion came from not noticing when it went there. The hint to the plot before the big reveal wasn’t in my face enough to grasp so I honestly thought I was wrong and had to reread it and walk away for a bit. Also, when scenes change or a different POV enters there are no page breaks to signify the present character/scene has ended. This wasn’t the only story like this.
Clairvoyant had the characters walking by a river and then somehow magically ending the story in a lake. On top of that, there are two characters and there aren’t any page breaks or signifiers when we jump from one point of view to the next which made it a bit confusing. Things just sort of happened, especially in the ending two or three paragraphs when it went without any transitions from one reveal, to the resulting action, and then the surprise ending.
Secrets is supposed to read like someone’s family has found out some big secret about them. It turns out to be not so big, but then the ending hints that what you thought it was it might actually be after all. I dunno I left this one feeling like ‘so which is it’? Is it the bigger secret or the minor one?
The library. Oh how much I wanted to love this one. I mean really wanted to. It was well written, it had suspense it had drama, it had action, but it got weird when the librarian started acting funny and protective towards the main character. I was like this makes no sense considering she and the other main character never interacted before and now she’s all overprotective of the narrator and suddenly interacting with the other main character with negative undertones. Then the reveal fell a bit flat. It almost felt like this would’ve read better without the reveal. Had we known who the narrator was the whole time the way things unfolded would’ve sat better.
The last one raised more questions than answers as well. It’s supposed to be about someone with multiple personality disorder but when you get the twist ending it doesn’t make sense. Reverse engineering the story to see if anything you read actually happened, the wording and the events that transpire don’t lend themselves very well to being separate personalities and something that only exists in the character’s mind. Especially when you consider at one point she meets with her sister and her sister walks away and you get her POV for a few moments. It’s hard to envision her sitting at the table watching her sister walk away or even having lunch with her unless they both were present based on the way the story is presented to the readers. Even the scenes with her best friend are very hard to envision happening with only one person inside her own mind. This story also doesn’t use page breaks when shifting from one POV to the next or, at the very end, to an entirely new scene with all-new characters, besides the main one. Not being able to clearly see how the twist ending made sense when rereading and looking for the clues to something being off, stopped this one from working as well as it could’ve.
All in all that was the problem with these stories—trying to reread them after the twist ending and making it make sense with the new knowledge didn’t always work. Other than being told what I had really read all the clues I expected to have missed couldn’t always be found once I had the answers. Kind of like in the first story when she says she’s seen the guy before. Usually you only see death right before your own, or after when he comes to reap but she saw him hours earlier, and the day before, so when exactly did she officially die? I mean doesn’t death have other souls to guide to the next realm. How does he have enough time to be stalking his next target a whole day in advance? I still, even though it was a good story, can’t figure out why cleaner is called cleaner and not The Artist. Obvious yes, but fitting considering the content.
Apparently people get impaled in cooking shows. I still, rereading The Competition, can’t visualise the scene I read being a cooking show. And I legit live on HGTV and The Food Network and DIY. I love those shows and still struggled with forcing this into that kind of format/box. The only one I can honestly say gave me zero problems, even if it was the most predictable, was Prison. It was everything I expected a short story with a twist to be.
The inability for me to be genuinely shocked by the reveals or be able to reread the more misleading ones with the new information and have that ‘ah ha’ moment at what I missed made these stories just okay for me. Nothing really stood out and the twists didn’t feel big enough or just didn’t work. It was a very average read for me.