Short stories

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Book Tag – Books Beginning With S.P.R.I.N.G.

Published March 21, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and hope you’re all well! Today I’m celebrating Spring as yesterday was the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. I came up with this idea after seeing one of my favourite book tubers, Lauren from Lauren And The Books do a video at Christmas. She took each letter of the word CHRISTMAS and presented a title from her bookshelves that began with that letter. I’m going to nab that great idea and today I will be taking each letter of the word SPRING and showing you a book from my TBR that begins with that letter which I hope to get round to very soon. So without further ado, let’s get on with it!

S

What’s it all about?:

Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’.

With great characters, a superb narrative set up, and language that is witty, bawdy and thrillingly alive, Sugar Money is a novel to treasure.

I’m so excited to read this book after loving Jane Harris’ previous novels, The Observations and Gillespie And I. If you haven’t read her before, I highly HIGHLY recommend her. She writes such beautiful historical fiction you could almost believe you were right there with her characters.

P

What’s it all about?:

A fiercely imagined fiction debut in which two young women face what happened the summer they were twelve, when a handsome stranger abducted them 

Everyone thought we were dead. We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think? –Lois

It’s always been hard to talk about what happened without sounding all melodramatic. . . . Actually, I haven’t mentioned it for years, not to a goddamned person. -Carly May

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

I love to support debut authors whenever I can and this synopsis looks too good to be true! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this novel from the publishers and I still cannot believe I haven’t got round to it yet.

R

What’s it all about?:

The twenty-one stories in Reader, I Married Him – one of the most celebrated lines in fiction – are inspired by Jane Eyre and shaped by its perennially fascinating themes of love, compromise and self-determination.

A bohemian wedding party takes an unexpected turn for the bride and her daughter; a family trip to a Texan waterpark prompts a life-changing decision; Grace Poole defends Bertha Mason and calls the general opinion of Jane Eyre into question. Mr Rochester reveals a long-kept secret in “Reader, She Married Me”, and “The Mirror” boldly imagines Jane’s married life after the novel ends. A new mother encounters an old lover after her daily swim and inexplicably lies to him, and a fitness instructor teaches teenage boys how to handle a pit bull terrier by telling them Jane Eyre’s story.

Edited by Tracy Chevalier, and commissioned specially for Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary year in 2016, this collection brings together some of the finest and most creative voices in fiction today, to celebrate and salute the strength and lasting relevance of a game-changing novel and its beloved narrator.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long! Stories inspired by one of my all time favourite books (and definitely my favourite classic)? YES PLEASE.

I

What’s it all about?:

‘Even if medical tests cannot explain your pain or tiredness or disability, it does not lessen your suffering. The pain of medically unexplained illness is every bit as real as any other and, if anything, is multiplied by the lack of understanding.

Most of us accept the way our heart flutters when we set eyes on the one we secretly admire, or the sweat on our brow as we start the presentation we do not want to give. But few of us are fully aware of how dramatic our body’s reactions to emotions can sometimes be.

Take Pauline, who first became ill when she was fifteen. What seemed at first to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then food intolerances, then life-threatening appendicitis. And then one day, after a routine operation, Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly after that her convulsions started. But Pauline’s tests are normal; her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.

Pauline may be an extreme case, but she is by no means alone. As many as a third of men and women visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected and yet, when it comes to a diagnosis, this is the very last thing we want to hear, and the last thing doctors want to say.

In It’s All in Your Head consultant neurologist Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan takes us on a journey through the very real world of psychosomatic illness. She takes us from the extreme — from paralysis, seizures and blindness — to more everyday problems such as tiredness and pain. Meeting her patients, she encourages us to look deep inside the human condition. There we find the secrets we are all capable of keeping from ourselves, and our age-old failure to credit the intimate and extraordinary connection between mind and body.

Science/health books are amongst my favourite non fiction topics to read about (anything about animals coming a close second). This book speaks to me on a personal level as I struggle with a chronic invisible illness and have done for the past seven years. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this one.

N

What’s it all about?:

Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins. Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby’s skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders. The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story about maternal ambivalence, the way we try to control children, and about women’s vexed and passionate relationship with work. Moss’s second novel displays an exciting expansion of her range – showing her to be both an excellent comic writer and a novelist of great emotional depth.

I have to admit, I bought this book a while ago for the cover initially, isn’t it gorgeous? Then I read my very first Sarah Moss, The Tidal Zone recently and absolutely loved it. I’m excited to get stuck in to more of her work.

G

What’s it all about?:

The first new collection in almost a decade from a bewitchingly original writer hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”

One of today’s most celebrated short story writers, Kelly Link creates brilliantly detailed, layered fictional worlds pulsing with their own energy and life. The situations are at first glance fantastical, but the emotional insights are piercing and the characters vividly real. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural Florida serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a one-time teen idol movie vampire takes a disturbing trip to the set where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a bizarre new reality show; in “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present, a new animated doll. Funny, uncanny, always deeply moving, these stories demonstrate a writer of wondrous gifts operating at the height of her powers.

Another collection of short stories, this book was recommended to me in a book spa by the wonderful booksellers at Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath. I’ve never read any Kelly Link before and have heard such great things about her writing that this just needs to be done!

Well everyone, that’s the end of my Books Beginning With S.P.R.I.N.G. post! Hope you enjoyed reading it, I’d love to see books from your TBR that make up the word S.P.R.I.N.G. If you decide to do a post, please leave a link in the comments so I can check it out or leave your answers in the comments below, it would be fun to see. I’m hoping to get to all of these books in the next few months and then I’ll be showcasing my books beginning with S.U.M.M.E.R so watch out for that post, coming later this year!

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Short Stories Challenge 2018 – A Child’s Problem by Reggie Oliver from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Published March 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s A Child’s Problem all about?:

A Child’s Problem focuses on a precocious young boy who is forced to go and live with his rich uncle and undergoes a rather haunting experience in his efforts to try and get to know his uncle a little better.

What did I think?:

Reggie Oliver is a well-respected British playwright, biographer and writer of ghost stories and has received numerous nominations for World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Stoker, International Horror Guild and the Shirley Jackson awards. Due to these numerous accolades, I found myself quite excited to discover his work, having never come across him in the past so a short story seemed the perfect place to begin. Now I’ve finished it and had some time to mull over it, I find myself in two minds about the story itself. On the one hand, it’s obvious the author can write and he’s excellent at creating an atmospheric narrative that makes you want to keep on reading but for some reason, this story just didn’t have enough bite for me. There was plenty of potential of course, but the direction it ended up taking just left me feeling slightly deflated.

A Child’s Problem follows a young boy, George who at nine years old is told that he must now live with his wealthy Uncle Augustus whilst his parents decamp to India for a while for his father’s work. At first, this seems like a big adventure for George, the house and grounds are large and there is plenty of opportunity for exploring however his Uncle is a difficult, rather sullen character who seems to have regretted agreeing to take George under his wing. On the interactions that they do have, he tries to get rid of him as soon as possible by giving him various quests around the property and puzzles to solve so that he can have a bit of peace. The puzzles that Augustus gives him however are a lot more sinister than first meets the eye and point to a dreadful history that leads George very quickly to be in terrible danger himself. As well as this, George is starting to see strange, shadowy figures under an old oak tree at the front of the house and he starts to wonder about the secrets that his Uncle Augustus believes he will keep hidden.

Interesting premise right? I was certainly intrigued and the writing was assured and captivating to read throughout the narrative. I was quite surprised that it was a bit longer than I was expecting and perhaps it suffered a bit for this length as about two-thirds of the way into it, unfortunately I began to lose interest. There are a host of unlikeable characters to get to grips with, which I always enjoy in a story but for some reason, even when some are in mortal danger, I still didn’t connect with them as much as I would have liked. Reggie Oliver certainly has a gift for writing eerie settings and some of the scenes, in particular when George finds the family tombs are quite chilling but sadly, by the end of the story, I just didn’t feel like I understood properly what it was all about and why exactly everything played out the way it did. This is just my personal opinion, however and I’m sure other readers would love it for the quality of the writing alone.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: At The Mountain Of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Published March 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long all about?:

This is a story about a particular group of yew trees including what they have seen through history and how they bemoan the folly of men.

What did I think?:

Well, this was an interesting little piece! I believe I’ve mentioned before, what I really enjoy about this collection is that after each story, Kate Mosse puts in a little afterword to explain what inspired her to write it which gives you a very fresh perspective, straight from the horse’s mouth so as to speak, and a great insight into the mind of the author whilst she was writing. This tale is remarkably short compared to the others and couldn’t be more different to what I’ve read in this collection so far. The author mentions that this particular tale was actually commissioned for The Woodlands Trust in order to protect certain trees from being destroyed and focuses on a particular group of yew trees in Kingley Vale which have been suggested to have been present since the time of the Vikings.

The yew trees at Kingley Vale, amongst the oldest living things in England.

The yew trees in this story describe their beautiful surroundings and appear to be peaceful and contented until the invasion of the Vikings is the beginning of many wars on their land. As they decay into the ground, they once again rise up and live on and grow to see more wars and horrific fighting between men. They are not only dumbstruck by why men would fight amongst themselves but are also saddened that blood is being spilled for no good reason. The story doesn’t really have a definitive sort of ending, we just feel bad for the trees as the reader when they continue to witness acts of violence. As a story promoting nature and the importance of these “immortal” trees, I think it’s a fantastic piece of writing and I loved that it took on a historical, mythological stand as we see events through the eyes of these ancient, knowledgeable trees. Personally, I would have loved a bit more length and perhaps a bit more detail about what the trees saw but rest assured, I think it does its job splendidly of illustrating how important these trees are.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: A Child’s Problem by Reggie Oliver from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Mini Pin-It Reviews #18 – Four Random Books

Published February 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four random books for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales Of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements – Sam Kean

What’s it all about?:

The Periodic Table is one of man’s crowning scientific achievements. But it’s also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues’ wives when she’d invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

From the Big Bang to the end of time, it’s all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

What’s it all about?:

protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) The Moth – Catherine Burns (editor)

What’s it all about?:

With an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

Before television and radio, before penny paperbacks and mass literacy, people would gather on porches, on the steps outside their homes, and tell stories. The storytellers knew their craft and bewitched listeners would sit and listen long into the night as moths flitted around overhead. The Moth is a non-profit group that is trying to recapture this lost art, helping storytellers – old hands and novices alike – hone their stories before playing to packed crowds at sold-out live events.

The very best of these stories are collected here: whether it’s Bill Clinton’s hell-raising press secretary or a leading geneticist with a family secret; a doctor whisked away by nuns to Mother Teresa’s bedside or a film director saving her father’s Chinatown store from money-grabbing developers; the Sultan of Brunei’s concubine or a friend of Hemingway’s who accidentally talks himself into a role as a substitute bullfighter, these eccentric, pitch-perfect stories – all, amazingly, true – range from the poignant to the downright hilarious.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) The Chimes – Anna Smaill

What’s it all about?:

The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.

In the absence of both memory and writing is music.

In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphemy, all appears lost. But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.

A stunning literary debut by poet and violinist Anna Smaill, The Chimes is a startlingly original work that combines beautiful, inventive prose with incredible imagination.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN IT REVIEWS: Four Author Requests.

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Remmy Rothstein Toes The Line by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone).

Published February 15, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A genre-busting new short story from the No. 1 bestselling author of the Will Trent novels. (‘Remmy Rothstein Toes the Line’ is also available as part of a bundle with ‘Go Deep and ‘Necessary Women’.)

As an intrepid adjudicator of World Records, Mindy Patel has met lots of strange people in lots of strange places. But they’re no match for the Swampers of the Georgia bayou. Mindy has braved the oppressive August heat in search of Remmy Rothstein, who they call ‘The Cajun Jew’. If the photos are indeed accurate, she might be about to certify Remmy as the World Record Holder for Longest Tongue in the World . . . and maybe even the Widest!

First Mindy meets Remmy’s half-brother, Buell Rabinowitz, surely the world’s only one-legged, albino, Jewish African American. Then she makes the acquaintance of Remmy’s mother, a foul-mouthed old woman with an impressive beard. None of which prepares her for an eyeful of Remmy: a man who measures up to his singular reputation in ways that will change the course of Mindy’s life.

What did I think?:

This short story is going to be ever so hard to review but I’m going to try my best! First of all, as you might already know if you’re a regular visitor to my blog, I’m a big fan of Karin Slaughter. I love her writing style, her dark humour and the way she’s not afraid to go to places other authors might shy away from. I couldn’t respect her more as an author or a woman yet I’m afraid I found myself not really loving Remmy Rothstein. It had a lot of interesting stylistic quirks, which I really enjoyed but somehow by the end, I was left feeling a little unsure. I could have gone right back to the start and re-read it but unfortunately, I wasn’t even bothered enough to do this.

The story is told from the point of view of Mindy Patel, an adjudicator for the World Records and she is writing back to her boss in the form of emails as she flits about the country, witnessing some very odd world record attempts. The main crux of the narrative follows her journey to the swamps of the Deep South and an intriguing man called Remmy Rothstein who claims to have either the longest (or the widest) tongue in the world. She of course must verify his claim so she heads off with her trusty measuring tape in tow to see if Remmy can claim a new world record. However, she doesn’t expect to meet a man and his strange family who have quite a different  and lasting effect on her than she could have believed – and it’s nothing to do with the tongue.

I hope I’ve described this little story accurately, of course with Karin Slaughter you are going to get a few surprises and twists in the tale and I always enjoy seeing what she’s going to surprise me with next. Sadly, there weren’t as many “Oh My God” moments as I’ve found with her previous stories/novels and this is perhaps why I’m a little disappointed with the tale as a whole. I’m also wondering if maybe I just didn’t get it? I left the story feeling quite confused and racking my brain to try and figure it all out, unfortunately this means that it has had an effect on the rating I’ve chosen to give. As always, Karin’s characteristic humour is evident throughout the story but for some reason, I felt she was trying a little too hard with this one and it didn’t come off as entirely natural which was a shame. Ending on a positive note, I did love the structure of this narrative, especially with the little footnotes about previous world records told by Mindy that you could read at the end of each chapter. I felt it added something a bit unusual to the story in general and a few really did make me smile. Again, if you’ve read this short story and have the same opinion or a different opinion as me I’d love to hear from you – especially if you can shed more light on the ending for me?

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Why The Yew Tree Lives So Long by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Dibblespin by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

Published February 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Dibblespin all about?:

Dibblespin follows the relationship of two very different sisters with themes of jealousy, revenge and betrayal.

What did I think?:

Sourdough And Other Stories couldn’t be a more “me” short story collection even if it tried. Rooted in fairy tales with quite a modern twist, I’ve enjoyed every single story I’ve read so far and that’s hugely surprising as generally in a collection, there’s a couple of stories that perhaps don’t speak to you as much as others. Dibblespin is another corker and like the previous tales, has a cracker of an ending that will make you want to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. When I’m reading Sourdough And Other Stories, I feel like I’ve slipped into a deliciously different world, filled with fairy-tale creatures, magical moments and as always, with the best fairy-tales, a snicker of darkness.

This story follows Dibblespin and her half-sister Ingrid who have a close relationship despite coming from quite a fractured family situation and being very different physically speaking. Ingrid is your archetypal beautiful little girl, beloved and used to getting everything she wants purely because of the way she looks. Dibblespin is, well…she is a magical creature who is not blessed with conventional beauty but boasts a sunny personality and a kind-hearted nature, dotes on her sister and enjoys spending time with her. Ingrid is no stranger to heartache and has lost all the parental figures in her life, although they sort of stick around in animal form near the house to keep an eye on her. This is particularly true of her mother, Olwen who spends most of her time in wolf form and has reared a human/wolf pack all of her own in the wild. Olwen is furious about the relationship between her daughter and Dibblespin, mainly because Dibblespin is the daughter forged from her husband’s betrayal and is determined that Ingrid should make a choice about where her loyalties really lie.

Dibblespin was a wonderful little story and like the others in this collection, the author has written the fantastical element just wonderfully. I adored the independent, yet soft nature of Dibblespin and felt she really came into her own as the narrative continued, particularly at the spectacular ending. Of course, the “evil stepmother,” addition is always welcome in any fairy tale and Olwen was a wickedly brilliant character to whisper theatrical boo’s at from the comfort of your sofa! I’m also now starting to see connections between the other stories in Sourdough and when I researched a bit deeper on the web, I learned that Ingrid and Dibblespin’s father has created quite a few children in this collection (what a philanderer!) and Olwen is actually the baby Patience Sykes rescues in the story Gallowberries. I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection like this, where there are links to other stories in each individual story and I find it thoroughly fascinating. I’m really excited to get to the next story in the collection and see if I can spot any more subtle connections!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Remmy Rothstein Toes The Line by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone).

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

Published January 27, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s The Balloon Hoax all about?:

The Balloon Hoax is a story about four men who attempt to cross the Atlantic for the first time in a balloon.

What did I think?:

Oh dear. I am honestly beginning to wonder if it’s “just me,” with this particular short story collection. I haven’t had the best of luck with the stories I’ve read so far and I was kind of dreading reading this, my expectations being well and truly quashed. Did it live up to my expectations. Yes, well my expectations were low so I suppose it did! I’m glad to discover however, that I’m not the only person to feel this way. The story on its own has some of the lowest ratings on Goodreads that I’ve ever seen for a book which was kind of surprising but not so much if you read the story, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Saying that, I always like to do a bit of research into the author or their short story before I write my review and I really enjoyed reading the history behind this short tale. It’s just a shame that’s the only thing that I enjoyed.

The story now known as The Balloon Hoax first appeared in The Sun newspaper in New York, April 1844. It follows our main character, Monck Mason and a number of other gentlemen as they attempt to fly a balloon first across the British Channel and then, when they are blown off course, eventually manage to get across the Atlantic Ocean in a mere three days. The story goes into incredible details about the mechanics of building the balloon – the vanes, the fuel, the propeller etc and as it references real people such as William Harrison Ainsworth which many people thought gave Poe’s story some authenticity. Poe himself was astounded at the reception his story received once published in the paper, indeed there were claims that the newspaper office was “besieged” by people wanting to get their hands on copies of the paper. The paper itself ended up having to print a retraction a couple of days later:

BALLOON – The mails from the South last Saturday night not having brought a confirmation of the arrival of the Balloon from England, the particulars of which from our correspondent we detailed in our Extra, we are inclined to believe that the intelligence is erroneous. The description of the Balloon and the voyage was written with a minuteness and scientific ability calculated to obtain credit everywhere, and was read with great pleasure and satisfaction. We by no means think such a project impossible.

As to more of a synopsis of what happens in this story, I’m afraid I can’t help very much in that regard. About half of the story describes the mechanics of the balloon in question, the other half are journal entries from the main voyagers describing what they see or do on a particular day of the quest. Perhaps the most exciting part of the narrative is when the men get blown off course by a strong current and decide to change their journey and tackle the Atlantic instead of the British Channel (obviously a mammoth undertaking when you compare the size of the two areas of water!).

Apart from that, they see some ships, they comment on the sky and the scenery below them….however they really lost me when they starting talking about the perpendicular of a right-angled triangle and the hypotenuse in relation to the balloon. Nope, mathematics is not my strong suit. My main issue however, and I think I might have mentioned this in my other Poe reviews is the amount of detail he obviously feels obliged to go into. I find it really unnecessary and terribly dull to read and I could almost feel my eyes glazing over as every minute detail of the propeller and screws of the balloon was described. Yawn. When I’m writing a perhaps more critical/negative review like this, I do feel the need to find something positive to say about what I’ve read. Yet with The Balloon Hoax I have to admit, I’m struggling. The journal entries were kind of interesting I guess, and I appreciated the change in narrative structure after paragraphs upon paragraphs of intricate information about vanes and coal versus hydrogen gas. Nevertheless, this won’t be a story I’ll be returning to or recommending to my nearest and dearest.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Dibblespin by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.