Wednesday, 9 March 2016

B.P. Smythe #macabra #shortstories #bookreview


From a Poison Pen


At first glance, I'd have overlooked this little pocket of (gory) fun. The cover didn't reveal anything of its contents other than a title and author's name. I wouldn't have known if the book was a collection of shorts (which it is), a novelette or a full blown novel. The title does suggest a horror or a thriller of some kind.

In the look inside we have the usual copyright page, an author dedication and the TOC, then it's straight in with the first story called Constricted Love. It opens with a belly-dancing scene which becomes a little dramatic as the snake attacks the belly-dancer. Then the scene is over and seemingly forgotten, but the story does catch my attention and I'm drawn into Julian's world of greed and self-gratification, and the story is all tied up at the end.

There are ten stories in total and all in verifying lengths (the first probably the longest). They all had the same horror/story with a twist theme. Some are set in the modern day while others are set in times gone by, and the characters are all carefully drawn with their own set of flaws, likes and dislikes and with their own story to tell.

There were some editing issues such as missing speech tags but nothing to take the reader from the enjoyment of the stories. The stories were written in a mixed POV but I felt this was quite skilfully done.

From a Poison Pen is described as a collection of 'dark, humorous and macabre tales' that 'explores the disturbing side of human nature', and I think that sums it up accurately. They aren't 'safe' stories where the hero gets his just desserts, they are dark, and sometimes disturbing stories of the dark side of human nature.

My favourite was Girls of BDM which I thought was some kind of new erotica but in fact was a story set in the concentration camps during the WW2. There were a few formatting issues in this story with live links where, I think, the author had researched something and copy and pasted a name or a slogan to place in the book and forgot to unlink the text.

I summed up the book as 'pocket of gory fun' and it was.

The Blurb

What happens when a member of the Hitler youth ends up in a concentration camp?

How does a beach side cocktail get in the way the way of one woman’s scheming?

What leads a teenage girl to rain down fire and brimstone?

This collection of dark, humorous and macabre tales explores the disturbing side of human nature. 

From a Poison Pen is the first book in a trilogy of collected short stories by B.P. Smythe.