I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the upcoming anthology Allusion of Innocence from Solarwyrm Press, and I am very glad that I did. It contained a great selection of short stories, 18 in all, each one very different from the others, but all of them relating to children and childhood themes.
Although it deals with children, the collection is intended for an adult audience. There is nothing YA about this one. Some of the stories deal with the supernatural, others are more psychological, and nearly all of them are dark in nature.
The editors did a fantastic job of selecting not only stories that deal with the anthology’s theme, but also choosing a cast of diverse authors. Many of the stories are set in and written by writers from different cultures from around the world. This brings a wonderful flavor to each story; one gets an idea of what life is like in different countries. In a way, it is a great sampling of world literature.
Like any anthology, some of the selections may be more to one’s liking than others. There were a few in this one that I really didn’t understand. Not that they were poorly written, they were just not my thing.
I must admit that at first I wasn’t sure what to make of Recle E. Vibal’s “White Hairs”, but by the end it all came together in a very surprising and shocking way. This is one of my favorites from the entire collection.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing of the stories was “The Cycle of Rebirth” by Mona Opubor. In this one we learn how the concept of reincarnation can be misunderstood when a mentally unstable daughter is taken to India by her father. He probably should have given her her meds…
“Pulp Adventure”, by Laird Long, is another of my favorites here. An overly serious teenager finds himself transported into an entirely new realm when he stumbles upon his grandfather’s trunk of vintage pulp fiction magazines.
Scathe meic Beorh’s “The Street Game” was another that I really enjoyed reading; however, I feel that this one should have been longer. It seemed to end right when it had me hooked. I think this would be a good beginning chapter of a novel.
“Run Like a girl” by M. Kate Allen is unique in that the roles of the characters are quite different from what you would normally expect. The nerdy girl is the better athlete than (and sort of a bully towards) the jock protagonist. A solid feminist short story.
“The Lying, the Snitch, and the Wardrobe” by Steve Ward is a great mix of psychological horror and gore, with a pinch of the supernatural. By the end, one has to wonder how much of it was real and how much was only the delusion of a twisted mind.
The collection concludes with “The Christmas Dragon” by Tom Trumpinski, a perfect choice. This tale has all the magic of childhood in it, as well as an accurate portrayal of life in medieval times.
It should be noted that there are two stories within this book (“Dolls” by Drake Vaughn and “Monster” by Terence Toh) that have or allude to childhood sexual abuse. If that is a trigger for you, or just a subject you’d rather not read about (neither of them have anything graphic), then you will probably want to skip these two.
In all honesty, this collection exceeded my expectations. All of the stories are well-written and I enjoyed reading them.