Today’s team review is from Sean, she blogs here https://ebookwormssite.wordpress.com
Sean has been reading The Sea Was A Fair Master by Calvin Demmer
23 short stories, or flash fiction as the style is known, the main themes of which are the darker sides of humanity, and dealing with the places where the visible and otherworld connect, and things break through.
There are 23 short stories, some very short, and mainly in the horror genre. Given that the author has so short a time to build the tension, I found the writing to be terse, intense, and very well-crafted to bring about the desired atmosphere.
There is definitely an echo of the short-lived “Hammer House of Horrors” in these stories (A classic TV show at a time when people had recently purchased colour TV’s!). The stories draw you in immediately, the scene is quickly set, and each tale has a twist or two. Some highlights:
“On The Seventh Day” has a biblical-sounding title, and the tale bears out a sense of being Justice being meted out, an eye for an eye vengeance.
“Trashcan Sam” was a grisly peek into an underworld, and one I felt has depth enough that could be enlarged into a novella.
“The Snakes or the Humans” – a man has the power over every species of life – what decision will be made when priorities change?
“Hangman” was a dark look at a security man’s night-time rounds, and the things that go on in school after hours!
The eponymous story offers a cure for when you find yourself becalmed at sea with your Navy comrades.
There are some touching stories as well, the most shining example of this being “Yara”. Love is shown as a powerful emotion, more powerful than death, but so is revenge! However, most stories featuring the heart tends to have it being carved out of someone!!
What I Liked:
- The writing was excellently paced.
- The characterisation is classic short-story, with the barest outline. However, the author really created a memorable cast of characters.
- There are no contrived endings – the author shows the horror genre real respect and, while short, every story delivers a superb punch.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Some (very few) of the stories reminded me of others that I had read before (e.g. Restrooms ending was a little like the Stephen King short Popsy, but I’m sure it this is only in my mind, and not intentional).
- Some of the stories were too short!
This is an excellent short story collection for the horror fan, and an intriguing entertaining read for the more mainstream reader. Unfortunately, you can read this over a couple of hours, and you are left wanting more! I really loved it, I felt the writing was crisp and succinct, and the author’s ability to generate compelling atmosphere with such an economy of words is deeply impressive.
The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.