I read The Forward Collection last year and had a really good time, so when my Kindle Unlimited scrolling came across The Trespass Collection, I knew I had to listen to them. The Trespass Collection is, as far as I can tell, the second of Audible’s novella collections available on Kindle Unlimited with free Audible narration. If you’d like to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, my link is here and at the bottom of this review. Where The Forward Collection focused on sci-fi, The Trespass Collection is nature-focused – but just as intriguing and unnerving in moments.
The Tiger Came to the Mountains by Silvia Moreno-Garcia:
About the book: She is the adventurer of the family. Her brother, the gentle dreamer. Even as they bond over folktales and hold each other close, their world has never felt so dangerous. Revolutionaries and pelones are in conflict, soldiers have turned into scavengers, and an escaped tiger has slipped up the mountain, looking for easy prey. As the darkest of legends becomes real, a young girl will do anything to save her brother’s life.
My review: THE TIGER CAME TO THE MOUNTAINS has Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s signature lush and beautiful prose, and this tale is a beautiful piece about family, love and courage. The loyalty between our narrator and her beloved brother is beautiful to read, and this raw novella made me feel the fierce need to survive. I loved the descriptions, and the insight into surviving a war not on the front lines but behind the scenes, where family and resources are taken by soldiers. I loved the juxtaposition of the realist and the dreamer and how they weren’t set against each other but in complement. I pretty much always adore Moreno-Garcia’s fiction and this was no exception. A very strong start to this collection.
Rating: 4 stars
Wildlife by Jeff Vandermeer:
About the book: Sam has retreated to her late father’s rental house, a safe place to commune with the animals in the greenbelt out back, tend to her garden, and keep her secrets. Her sense of security slowly returns—until an aggressive neighbor from the other side of the ravine fells a tree on her property. How little he regards nature. Or understands its darkness. How little he knows Sam.
My review: This was unnerving as hell. I loved it pretty much all the way through. The ending though? It’s super vague and open ended, which is okay if you want to interpret the ending however you like but I’ll be honest – I listened to the last chapter twice because I thought I’d missed some vital explanation. I think I just wanted a more certain ending. That being said, the writing was excellent and atmospheric, Sam’s history was unveiled in little hints that had me eager for the next bit of her mystery to be unravelled. I really felt the isolation and wilderness, and the fear of knowing something wasn’t quite right with her neighbours.
Rating: 3 stars
The Backbone of the World by Stephen Graham Jones:
About the book: Millie Two Bears lives alone in a trailer in the heart of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Since her husband went to jail, she’s been on the outs with the reservation. And it’s not just people she has to contend with. Now the prairie dogs are moving in on her patch of land. When a strange woman comes into Millie’s life, and Millie’s rodent war escalates, a fateful confrontation with vengeance, secrets, and survival is just underfoot.
My review: This was really weird. That generally seems to be my feeling about Stephen Graham Jones’s horror. As usual though, the prose was engaging and interesting and I liked the way the story unfolded in an unnerving and curious way. I could not, in a million years, have guessed where this story was going and I enjoyed waiting for understanding to creep in. It wasn’t my favourite of the Trespass collection so far, but it was a fun and quick listen, even if I didn’t totally understand the ending.
Rating: 3 stars
Stag by Karen Russell:
About the book: Still recovering from a brutal breakup, Stan Dobrev crashes a “divorce party” in the Southern California desert. An unknown extra in a stranger’s drama, he’s on his way back to the bar when a fellow interloper catches his wandering eye. She’s a formidable tortoise named Greeley, trudging through the drunken revelry and chaos like a true survivor. Before the night is over, she’ll lead Stan on a strange journey beyond oblivion.
My review: This one didn’t really land with me. The ending was kind of interesting, but the tortoise wasn’t really the focus. Most of it was on Stan and his relationship history. Which is fine, but not of huge interest to me. The reveal of his past was good, and there was a moment where I thought it was going to go spooky as hell. It didn’t, and I was a little disappointed, but this was still an interesting short read.
Rating: 2 stars
A Righteous Man by Tochi Onyebuchi:
About the book: Nathaniel is a well-intentioned, if naive, British cleric feeling blessed to educate a West African village about the benevolent power of God. But as slavers encroach, Nathaniel’s endeavor is daunted by the realities unfolding on the beautiful homeland of his congregation. It seems the Devil has power too. What follows for Nathaniel is a profound spiritual upheaval as he questions his purpose and even his humanity.
My review: This was strange and very insidious. It started out kind of mild and I didn’t think I’d find it that interesting. But it really did build in a spectacular way. It was another open-ended story but to me the character development of Nathaniel, and the way that we saw that through the letters written from Nathaniel to his wife, was the best part of this book. Ultimately, it’s Nathaniel that is changed by his experiences, not the town that he came to ‘educate’ and the way it handled colonialism and slavery in the name of ‘progress’ was powerful and emotive to read.
Rating: 3 stars
Bloody Summer by Carmen Maria Machado:
About the book: Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the night. In the town of Never-Again, Pennsylvania, this hand-game song contains a history—centuries of inexplicable tiger sightings. It also reveals a frightening prophecy, one that only a small circle of players envisions. After Never-Again becomes the scene of unimaginable violence, a researcher uncovers the truth about the game, right down to its final chilling verse.
My review: I liked the framing of this one a lot. It’s styled like an academic text, which isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of in fiction. I’ve seen it even less often in horror, and I think that it worked really well for a horror novella. The detached tone makes it twice as unnerving and I really enjoyed the audiobook experience. The idea of something that children can see and understand but adults can’t is extremely creepy and I’d like to read more exploring that idea. Honestly, I’d love to read more about the Bloody Summer in general, but I think the short-form of the novella helped get this book under my skin.
Rating: 4 stars
If you’re interested in trying any of the above, I recommend using this affiliate link for a kindle unlimited trial! If you do, you can get the whole collection for free in ebook and audio, which is how I listened to all of them.