Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Review: Between These Pages -- C A MacKenzie
Author: CA MacKenzie
Genre: Short Stories
Price: $2.99 (ebook)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Psyche Skinner
I read "Between These Pages" over a fairly extended period simply because life suddenly became very busy. Not all of the stories are good but enough are great to make up for it, making this a very readable collection. I started off not particularly engrossed, but by about half way through the stories became sharper. They more often ended with a satisfying twisted, or an ambiguity that was thought provoking rather than simply baffling.
Perhaps it is because the author ordered the stories by the age of the protagonists, and older characters naturally have more depth and pathos. Or perhaps because the elements of infidelity, troubled relationships and murder go from being repetitive to genuine themes as each story adds a new layer.
As high points I would point to stories with vivid images like the wife with a mannequin made in her image ("The Mannequin") or the woman sinking (is is she?) into a geothermal sinkhole ("Trapped in the Swallow"). Others may be somewhat shaky in execution but are intriguing in theme like a society where the road toll has gone from an unconscious sacrifice to a civic responsibility ("The Quota").
My favorite, strangely enough given my lifelong love of gothic horror, is the one completely nice and happy story in the collection. Although it appears near the beginning, "Away with the Fairies" feels like closes the loop of the repeated themes by showing how the older generation can help the younger steer them away from the tragedies that beset the characters in the other stories in the collection.