I read The Forward Collection last year, and so far this year I’ve read The Trespass Collection, The Black Stars Collection and The Dark Corners Collection. I definitely can’t stop now, I’m absolutely hooked on these short pieces of fiction that are perfect for passing my work days. They’re available in ebook and audio via Kindle Unlimited, which is a great deal for lots of excellent short fiction. If you’d like to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, my link is here and at the bottom of this review. This collection is focused on lies and secrets that might have been better left buried.
Snowflakes by Ruth Ware:
About the book: Leah has spent her formative years isolated on a remote island with her family. But their quiet existence, far from the devastated mainland, is cracking. Father, sensing a coming threat, demands that a wall be built. As the stone blockade rises, Father’s paranoia escalates. So does Leah’s dread that the violence the family left behind has found its way to their sanctuary.
My review: This was kind of weird. It was a political type thriller and I think that this would have worked a lot better in a longer piece of fiction – though that being said, if it was longer I probably wouldn’t have read it. The concept was good and it was decently written, but I didn’t really enjoy it that much. It’s not really my kind of story, I think.
Rating: 2 stars
Treasure by Oyinjan Braithwaite:
About the book: Treasure is a wannabe Instagram influencer in Lagos, Nigeria. She shows off a luxurious life in a gated community that her almost five thousand followers can only dream of. @Sho4Sure is determined to be part of it. The macho mechanic is Treasure’s number one fan, and double taps and blushing emojis are no longer enough. He needs to meet her in the flesh. If only Treasure were more prepared for destiny.
My review: This was so creepy. I’ve read a couple of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s thrillers, and I was lucky enough to hear her speak at an event once, and I really love the way she creates a sense of creeping fear with tightly written prose. As someone who spends way too much time on social media, this was absolutely terrifying. The idea of being stalked through instagram, secrets slowly unravelling, had me wanting to log off altogether – and I don’t have nearly as much to hide as [main character]. I liked this a lot more than the first book in the collection, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the collection.
Rating: 3 stars
Slow Burner by Laura Lippman:
About the book: Liz Kelsey promised herself she’d never again spy on her feckless husband, Phil. But then she discovers a string of suggestive texts on his secret burner phone. Even worse, he’s flirting with the woman who shook their unstable marriage once before. But knowledge is power. What’s more dangerous—what Liz knows or what Phil doesn’t know?
My review: I love a good thriller and this was a good thriller. I thought I knew what was coming but it still managed to rug pull me near the end. I loved the voice and the texting mixed with prose format. I’m a sucker for epistolary and rarely see it in thrillers. I’ve never read any Laura Lippman before but this scratched my thriller itch so thoroughly I’m going to have to change that.
Rating: 4 star
Buried by Jeffrey Deaver:
About the book: After a long run as a respected journalist, Edward “Fitz” Fitzhugh is on his way out when he stumbles across the story of a lifetime. The Gravedigger is a serial kidnapper who taunts the police with riddles. The other puzzle is his motive, which Fitz is determined to piece together. When an eyewitness to the latest abduction leads Fitz closer to the facts, he realizes that the last great story of his career is not at all what it appears to be.
My review: This was a pretty well-written piece but really solidified that I’m just not interested in crime novels. If I was into them though, this would make me read more of Deaver’s work. The Gravedigger serial kidnapper was not what I expected and I loved the way that the ‘lies’ theme was threaded into this story. Having a reporter perspective instead of police definitely made me enjoy this more than other crime stories I’ve tried and I liked the duality of the old-school and new-school reporters working together. The ending was satisfying to read and I liked the way it all tied together in its short pages.
Rating: 3 stars
The Gift by Alison Gaylin:
About the book: It’s dreaded news for actress Lyla McCord and her husband, Nolan. Their eight-year-old daughter has vanished. To find her, Nolan reaches out to a psychic gifted with uncanny visions about the lost girl. But Lyla thinks she sees right through him. Is he a con artist or the real thing? Either way, he might be telling the truth. And that’s too frightening for Lyla to bear.
My review: This was fantastic, and so creepy – I love-hated it. I could not have predicted the lie that made this story a perfect fit for this collection if you’d left me to guess for a hundred years. I loved that we saw the darker sides of fame and fortune, the lies behind the glamourous lifestyle, before we even got into the lies surrounding our protagonist’s missing year of her life. I was on tenterhooks as I listened to this story waiting desperately to find out what would happen to Fidelity, and this raw look at the lengths humans can go to to protect their lives made me shiver.
Rating: 4 stars
Let Her Be by Lisa Unger:
About the book: Will, an aspiring novelist, can’t stop parsing his ex-girlfriend’s popular social media accounts for clues that her ideal new rural life with the perfect man has a dark side. After all, nobody he knows has actually seen the blissful blogger in the flesh for nearly a year. When Will draws a wary friend into his “investigation,” the real question becomes who’s truly in danger.
My review: I wasn’t sold on this to start with, but goddamn did this build to a really creepy conclusion. This gave me exactly the same ‘fuck, I hate this’ vibes as watching You on Netflix. Our protagonist has been through it, with a traumatic past that led to his messy breakup with his ex-girlfriend and subsequent breakdown. But is he right in thinking that his ex’s new picture perfect life is fake, or is this stalker’s delusions and paranoia? This made me feel paranoid, a sure sign of a fantastically written unreliable narrator, and for a few short minutes I was on his side. Until he reminded me that he is the worst. This is the second Amazon short I’ve read from Lisa Unger and I will absolutely be reading more in the future.
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.