All right, time for some short story reviews! Haven’t done one of these in a while. These are two stories you fantasy lovers don’t want to miss.
The story follows a hitman’s job that is more complicated and surprising than one would expect. To say much more, I’m afraid, would spoil the read so I’ll hold back.
This is a story that played with my expectations right from the start, and from the first twist I fell in love. If you happen upon a summary of the story, I’d suggest not reading that summary and allowing yourself the full experience if you like good fantasy. Just know that there is an assassin and there is a guy who has lived a really, REALLY long time.
As good writers do, Pratt treats the fantastical elements with a weight that makes them real and believable. It helps so much that his characters are so unique and filled out, even in the limited page space. They seem so human, even if some are physically barely that.
It isn’t just craft that impresses me here, though. Pratt has taken a great what-if scenario (think: very long life) and worked out the real-life (though fantastical) consequences of the scenario. It’s a fairly common what-if, if I think about it, but I’ve never seen it treated this way before. Great world-building and thoughtfulness involved that really sank into me.
Apparently there is more of this hitman in Pratt’s Marla Mason series?… I’m gonna have to get onto reading those books!
This story is available as an ebook from Barnes & Noble and Amazon for 99 hot cents! I’d suggest buying the whole Hart & Boot & Other Stories collection for just $3, which includes this story. I haven’t gotten through the whole thing, but just from what I’ve read, the collection is so worth it!
A retried Grim Reaper and a discharged cherub investigate a very odd traveling carnival run by the mysterious Mr. Kite. Kind of like The X-Files, but stranger… in a cool way.
Yes, we’re back with Mr. Ortiz! I don’t know if you remember my reviews of his other stories, but the more I read his work, the more I love it. My particular affection for this story might have to do with the fact that the angel has wings and is self-conscious of them. And that’s at the beginning of the story.
Ortiz wastes no time introducing the odd pair of investigators. The story starts in a scene and lets the details of the scene slowly build up and organically inform the reader. There isn’t much introduction necessary, anyway, the real story is the secret behind Mr. Kite’s odd shows, such as the “Seven-Second Empires.”
As the story goes on, I am really drawn into the strangeness of the whole situation–a Grim Reaper, a cherub, really weird carnival shows. I love that Ortiz has imagined a world where the various oddities can exist on the same plane. The writing is fantastic, really doing justice to bringing the fantasy to an imaginable life.
My only gripe, and it is a small one, is that the ending doesn’t have as much oomph as I want it to. I don’t think this is exactly a negative aspect of the story. Rather, I feel as if I want to read more about these characters so I know how they manage to do what they do. I feel like I’m missing part of their story in a larger sense… But there could be more stories in the future, so that’s a good sign!