Roots And All

All posts tagged Roots And All

Short Stories Challenge – Roots And All by Brian Hodge from the collection A Book of Horrors

Published May 27, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s Roots And All all about?:

A grandmother and a sister’s death, a small community with an upsurge in the amount of meth dealers/users and traditional folklore all conspire to create a story to send shivers up the spine.

What did I think?:

So far, A Book of Horrors has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I’ve read a couple of excellent stories and a few mediocre but I was still looking forward to reading something by Brian Hodge, an author I’ve not yet encountered. It starts with two cousins, Dylan (our narrator) and Gina who are returning to their grandmother’s house to attend her funeral and begin sorting out her possessions. Obviously it’s an emotional time for both of them as they recollect happier days growing up and playing in the woods surrounding Grandma Evvie’s property. They decide to pay the neighbour a visit whom they were also fond of and she is pleased to welcome them into her house letting them know that they were their grandmother’s “favourites,” and wouldn’t it have been nice if Shae had also been here. Then oddly she tries to extract a promise from Dylan that:

“don’t you go poking your noses anywhere much off the roads. Those meth people that’ve made such a dump of the place, I hear they don’t mess around.”

This is the first time we get a mention of Shae who was Dylan’s little sister and who disappeared in mysterious circumstances when she was nineteen. All that was found of her at the time was a bloodied scrap of a blouse hanging from some brambles but her body has never been recovered. The two cousins are close friends as well as relatives and enjoy that night reminiscing and looking through photo albums of their childhood. Dylan especially remembers quite vividly the stories that Grandma Evvie used to tell them of the Woodwalker – tales that made his hairs stand on end when Grandma Evvie tells them of the good side of the Woodwalker, who protected the land and gave back to you if you were good to him…. and then the dangers of getting on the wrong side of him:

“It loves most of what grows and hates waste and I guess you could say it pays us back. And makes sure we don’t get forgetful and too full of ourselves. What happens then, if you do? Awful things. Awful, awful things.”

Then the cousins make a shocking and grisly discovery – one that will change Dylan’s life forever and remind him of his “roots.”

This story was hugely enjoyable. I loved the way in which an old folk tale was interspersed with modern day life, bringing an element of the fantastical and definitely sending a shiver or two up the backbone. I admired the way in which many threads of the story like the disappearance of Shae, the Woodlander, the meth gangs, Grandma Evvie’s death and the upheaval of Dylan’s life were all brought together to form a story that was exciting as well as intriguing. And the discovery that the cousins make? Yikes, well I didn’t see THAT one coming! I think any horror or fantasy fan will really enjoy this superb little tale and I look forward to finding out much more about Brian Hodge and his other works. On the small amount I’ve read on the author apparently themes like self-sacrifice are quite important to him. All I can say is that definitely comes across in this short story!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Short Stories Challenge 2015 – April to June

Published April 3, 2015 by bibliobeth


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I’m so glad I started this challenge, I’ve discovered some real gems of stories and brilliant new authors. I never thought of myself as a short story fan but now I can say that I know what all the fuss is about. Here’s what I’m going to be reading from April to June this year.

Week beginning 6th April 

Roots And All by Brian Hodge from the collection A Book of Horrors

Week beginning 13th April 

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 20th April 

Bloodsport by Tom Cain from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7

Week beginning 27th April 

The Smoothest Way Is Full Of Stones by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 4th May 

Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 11th May 

The Jaunt by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 18th May 

Camp Sundown by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 25th May 

The Giant’s Boneyard by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 1st June 

A Telephone Call by Dorothy Parker from the collection The Story: Love, Loss and The Lives of Women, 100 Great Stories

Week beginning 8th June 

Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules For Antarctic Tailgating by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 15th June 

The Man With The Twisted Lip by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 22nd June 

The Nightlong River by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 29th June 

Narrative of Agent 97-4702 by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner