Matthew Tonks, $0.99, ISBN 978-0463164280
Dismembered Tales & Entrails: Book One—the first in a series, duh—is a collection of Matthew Tonk’s super short stories, or flash fiction, revolving around scary kinds of woo-woo. Now, I can’t say I read too much flash fiction, mostly because I have never come across one that leaves me hanging by the edge of my seat by the time it ends. Sadly, this one leaves me with that same reaction. There are 31 stories here, but I’d be hard pressed to tell anyone what each one is about unless I open the thing and refer to it.
The titles can be awesome, such as For This Is How We Earn Them and Names Petrified in Your Hands, but the stories themselves are kind of meh. Sure, the narrative is clean, and there is nothing here that will give me a case of mental indigestion or dry heaves. Everything here seems competent and adequate enough for a short diversion into spooky valley, but the wow factor is missing.
For me, the issue is that these stories rely heavily on dialogues, which often veer into unrealistic exposition hours in order for the author to let me know what is happening. As a result, the villains such stories come off more often than not like Scooby-Doo villains giving their usual monologues before receiving their ultimate embarrassment. I feel that the author could have varied things a bit more. How about a story solely describing the sensations of, say, being abused or killed by a monster, for example? Perhaps just a narrative of one’s increasingly panicked thoughts as they stumble onto some nightmarish scenario?
There are surely many narrative devices the author could have used to give this collection a more varied tone, but instead, I get stories which are basically one bad character often yammering, sometimes in an unfortunate overwrought manner, to the designated victim of that story. Perhaps this won’t be so bad if this collection had been called something like Conversations about Dismemberment & Entrails, at least then I would be prepared to get what I end up getting.
As it is, I find this collection okay, hence I’m giving it three oogies in a slightly begrudging manner. However, it’s also something that I will have a hard time remembering once I’m done with it. In fact, if you ask me specific questions about the things in this collection and forbid me to peek at it to find the answers, I’d suggest you do something else more productive, because for the life of me I won’t be able to give one single correct answer. Sadly, nor would I care to look up this collection again to seek those answers.