Book Review – “Amaranthine and Other Stories” (2016)
|It is unusual that you will find me in this seat, reviewing a novella, but if you’re extra nice and ask politely, unbelievable things can happen!
Amaranthine and Other Stories (AOS) is a collection of nine short stories of various lengths and varying themes, but the core theme is the horror of everyday life; that people are the real monsters.
The opening story really sets the tone for book itself, it is clear Hofstatter doesn’t take himself too seriously, diving straight into dark irreverent humour off the mark. Many stories here are left ambiguous, owing to necessity, due to their length. This works well for some but others have a forced exposition that turns into a red herring or isn’t paced very well. There’s some flip-flopping too within some of the stories world building, one story in particular involving a born again Christian repenting for his sins.
There are a handful of strong stories that really shine here that I won’t go into as most rely on a very simple plot and hook. If I had to pick a personal favourite from the selection it would be the closing story “Pins and Needles” though not without its flaws (the noticeable interchanging of British and American slang, certainly not intentional). A close second would be the opening story “The Birthing Tub”, a tale of loss, grief and new beginning *wink*.
There is a great section at the end where the author talks through the inspiration for these tales. Some I was surprised to learn of their genesis and others it put them in perspective as to the reason they are the way they are.
This is a review after all so let us get into the nasties. There was repetitive use of language and phrasing and odd punctuation with skulls. A disproportionate amount of the stories painted women in a negative light be they victims of violence or adulteresses (nothing malicious let it be stated, just a disproportion). I did however enjoy the stories for the most part, that were being told and the playfulness in which the author delivered the horror.
Overall AOS was a flawed yet entertaining collection of stories by blossoming horror writer Erik Hofstatter.
If you’re a fan of horror and a fan of reading; AOS is a great way to breeze through an afternoon to keep that blood lust sated for a little while more.
4/6 Brief Horror Fun
Erik can be found on Twitter and Amaranthine and Other Stories is available on Amazon.