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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Contribution to Mankind, by Linda Acaster, Reviewed

Here we have a collection of short stories by an author who knows her craft. The tales are all dark but, as with all good tales of the sort, carry patches of light. Linda Acaster has an uncanny knack of undermining assumptions so that the reader finds her stories end rather differently from what might have been expected. Nevertheless, the endings are all apt; there is nothing either false or contrived about them, it's merely that they lead to places not ordinarily considered.

The author employs her considerable imagination to take the reader into unfamiliar worlds where all is not as it seems on the surface. Although ghosts and spirits populate some of these stories, they don't arise from the regular menu of ghost stories. Each has its own take on experiences that take us out of our normal, cosy world and plunge us into possibilities we might otherwise not encounter.

As always in this writer's fiction, the language employed is both apt and accessible without being either patronising or too clever. She uses a down to earth tone to set the scene and to portray her characters. And the characters are beings we might all have met, even those populating the other worlds she sometimes takes us into.

There is irony, some just desserts, and a glance into our possible distant future within the tales in this collection. I enjoyed all the stories and commend them to you.

As a bonus, the book also contains the opening chapters of Linda Acaster's 'Torc of Moonlight', a superb paranormal romance novel that stands out as more than just a great example of the form but as a demonstration that such works can truly transcend the narrow definition of the genre and appeal to the widest readership.

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