As with many short story collections, you sometimes aren't sure what you're going to get. Are you going to sit down with a bag of popcorn and have a fun romp through the pages? Are you going to sit down with a brandy and cigar only to be amazed with the fine literature by the author? With this new collection by Simon Stranzas put out by Dark Regions Press, you get a little of both and more beyond the contents page.

Through the collection Simon guides you on an interesting journey. Whether it be the opening story, Under the Overpass that takes you along with a group of young kids who find another boy, and end up killing him (or do they?); the Laymonesque The Other Village that reminds me of an homage to The Island; the dark tale of a woman trying to find a cure for her inability to mother a child in A Seed on Barren Ground; a quick and creepy yarn of moving into an apartment with odd noises coming from the walls in Fading Light; a heart-wrenching tale of oncoming death in Like Falling Snow; or the chilling (pun intended) title story that rounds out the bunch, this is a good collection.

Simon definitely has a way with his writing that some may find too drawn out, too wordy, not enough "going on". A few of his stories I was halfway through and wondered when it would pick up, which it finally did at the very end, but at the same time ended a little too soon, left too much of an opening for the wondering reader. The stories themselves though, as you are reading them, are well written, and don't aim to bore you with nonsensical happenings. It all fits together, moving along at a pace to make you want to know the ending of each story, and that's what a good writer does. He or she keeps you going all the way to the end, as any good movie would also compel you to do.

There were a few misses with the collection. I wasn't too enthralled with Poor Stephanie as it just didn't really do anything for me, it fell flat. The other that stuck out was Here's to the Good Life which was too slow, and felt like it had the ending thrown in just to creep you out, to make up for the rest of the story being underwhelming.

Overall though, I felt this was a well rounded and entertaining collection, to which I would recommend to those who aren't into a specific type of short story that is throughout, but that has many styles to keep you going. A rating of B- for me.

Review by Kyle Lybeck

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