Death was enjoying a cigarette and some powdered baby formula ('more pure than mother's milk!') when the phone rang.
"Death speaking. Oh, hi Pestilence. How's your cold?"
"It's going great, thanks. It's turned into pneumonia."
~~~From "The New Death," one of the stories in "The New Death and others" by James Hutchings
Taking inspiration from authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, James Hutchings has compiled an e-book containing a collection of short pieces of dark fantasy, which he approached me about a couple of days ago, asking if I would read and review his e-book. I agreed to do so; partially because I felt honoured for being asked to do so, but mostly because I love to read just about anything, with fantasy right near the top of the list (how near depends on the type of fantasy, and the type nearest the top depends on my current mood). But also because the offer of a free copy of the book in exchange for a review was a huge temptation for me. And since he was willing to convert it to a format of my choosing... Well, how could I say no? The answer is, I couldn't. So I told him that if he could send it as a text file then I'd be happy to read and review it. He kept his promise; an RTF (Rich Text Format) version of the e-book arrived in my inbox yesterday (Friday). Now I'm keeping my promise, which means posting a review of the book.
For those who aren't clear on some of the genres used in writing... As a general rule, dark fantasy refers to stories that focus on elements usually found in the horror genre, but which take place in a more fantasy type of setting, involve magic of some description, or involve characters more at home in fantasy stories. Anyway...
"I'll just read a story or 2, then I'll decide from that whether I want to read more tonight or will leave it until tomorrow to carry on," I told myself last night, settling down in front of my laptop (which was - thankfully - behaving for a while). A couple of hours later I had read the entire book, and found myself disappointed that there were no more tales to read.
The tales are what you would expect from the genre; tales of mystery and magic, or tales of creatures that belong in nightmares, or - more often than not - a combination of those things. If you're the kind of person who enjoys that, then I'm sure you will enjoy the book, as I myself did. James also managed to throw a dash of humour in there, which had me chuckling out loud on more than one occasion. He also brought some versions of older tales in to the 21st century; his version of "Rumpelstiltskin," for example... The old tale of Rumpelstiltskin that most - if not all - of us are familiar with, given a new twist with the complication of modern technologies.
I enjoyed reading it, and I'm glad I was given the oppertunity to do so; thank you, James!
Should you wish to get your hands on a copy of this e-book for yourself - or perhaps for a friend or family member who you think might enjoy it - I have been advised that you can do so by visiting any of the following three links:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-new-death-and-others-james-hutchings/1106579897
You can also visit James' blog: http://www.apolitical.info/teleleli
***Note***: The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and not influenced in any way by anyone who exists outside of my own head.