The Horror Zine Review
A Short Story Collection
|Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Kerlak Enterprises, Inc. (August 23, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
A Short Story Collection
Review by Jeani Rector
I read a lot of fiction due to my job here at The Horror Zine. Not all of that fiction is good. Which means, when I find a book filled with good fiction, I cheer. And Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection made me cheer very loudly, because it is a really good book.
Something unusual in this book: there is a Commentary after each story, explaining either why the story was written, where the idea came from, or just observations in general. At first I was surprised, then I wondered why this sort of thing is not done more often. The Commentaries were interesting and I believe they add a positive feel to the book.
There seems to be a lot of short story collections around these days so a good one needs something to make it stand out from the pack. This book manages to do that. For one, the stories all take place in the Deep South and the location descriptions in this book are very authentic. Gilbreath includes not just the sights, but the sounds, smells, and feel of the south. One of the things I tell new writers is to “write what you know.” Gilbreath does just that, and does it very effectively.
Secondly, it is apparent that each story was written with a lot of care and research. I am a stickler for that sort of thing. Gilbreath got his facts right. And he weaves some brilliant yarns around those facts, making me believe his stories because they just seem so….real.
He even says in one of his Commentaries: “Short stories like this one require a massive amount of research and plotting to get right.” To which I say Bravo! How many times do I read a story and the plot falls apart because the scaffolding fails. That doesn’t happen in Gilbreath’s book.
Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection is a book of nineteen short stories. More dark fantasy than horror, each tale is interesting to the point of being fascinating. Best of all, Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection is consistent. The quality of most of the stories is superb.
That does not mean that I don’t have my favorites, which of course I do.
One of my favorites is “Origins.” A couple of scientists are doing gene research with chicken eggs, trying to turn back on the genes that switched off during evolution. If that is not interesting enough, Gilbreath throws in a southern-style hurricane as an obstacle. I always say that to create a good story, the writer must invent likeable characters, throw in obstacles, then show how the characters can overcome those obstacles. Gilbreath succeeds on all counts with “Origins.”
Another favorite is “The Glamour of It All.” This one is a sci-fi with a twist. Has anyone ever wondered how the Space Station is kept clean? Who does the menial jobs of mopping the floors? And what if an insect or rodent stows away and chews the wiring? It is not like you can simply call in an electrician from down the street. And just when you think you have solved the problem…This story is so unique that it approaches brilliance. Makes me wonder though, the kind of “what if” thought games that Gilbreath must play!
A really good character study is “The Tale of Two Shelves.” Alison Delaney is a southern woman, used to the idea that southern women are compliant, very female and they let the men take charge. But her impending divorce changes her outlook. I really love this story because it features a strong female character that has depth and intelligence. Gilbreath writes emotions that leap off the page into my heart. This one is a touching story that all women (and a lot of men) should read.
“Time to Come Out and Play” is an effective ghost story. What can be scientifically explained and what is a real haunting? And how do you know the difference? This story captivated me.
There is humor in some of the stories. Again, back to wondering how Gilbreath’s mind works. One story describes a real road to Hell that is paved with good intentions. Very clever and it made me laugh out loud.
Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection contains 284 pages of really good fiction. As I said in the beginning of this review, as Editor of The Horror Zine, I read a lot of fiction, not all of it enjoyable. It is a nice treat to find a book that is truly enjoyable from start to finish. Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection is that book.
You can buy the book HERE.
About the author
Allan Gilbreath denies that he was raised by wolves, but still enjoys quiet moonlit evenings. He is an accomplished skeptic, cook, gardener, computer geek, martial artist, and avid student of arcane knowledge. Allan is also a nationally recognized and award-winning author, publisher, speaker, and instructor. He has appeared on television, stage, radio, web/podcast, and tours the country in live appearances. He enjoys serving on convention panels and can cover a wide range of topics from the serious to the outrageous. In his adult vampire novels, Galen and Dark Chances, he links sensual fantasy with danger and predation to excellent effect. His exceptional use of plot tension between the various characters sets a wonderful stage for the little details that bring it all to life.
Allan's Jack Lago supernatural mysteries are known for their attention to detail and suspense. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and in his award-winning collection, Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection.
About the reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others. Her novel Pestilence: A Medieval Tale of Plague is released by The Horror Zine books.