Looking for some cheap reading material? Here are two books that you will find on Amazon for 99 cents. The first book is The New Death and Others by James Hutchings. This is a book of flash fiction and poetry that deal with mythology, fairy tales and horror. Most of the stories that are here are less than 1,000 words. They make you think and laugh while looking at the dark side of fantasy. This collection has a little of everything, including monsters who are afraid that people are no longer scared of them, A man longing for the perfect woman and a funny tale of two demons in love.
The first story in this collection is called The God of The Poor and deals with the gods deciding on which one of them will have dominion over the poor. In this story, I felt the gods were a metaphor for how most people think of the poor and it really set the stage for the rest of the book. In the next story called How The Isle of Cats Got Its Name, James Hutchings creates his own mythology. It is set in the fictional city of Telelee and follows a powerful sorceress named Abi-simiti as she collects all the cats in the city to take to an unnamed island. Her plan is to torture cats as part of a musical instrument that is meant to impress a god. Abi-simiti makes a crucial mistake and the cats have the last laugh. Anyone who is a cat lover should enjoy this one along with another story in the collection called My Cat Is Not Like Other Cats.
There are a few stories in The New Death And Others that I really enjoyed. One in particular was The Doom That Was Laid Upon Fame. In this story the goddess Fame is blamed and punished for giving people who are unworthy fame and fortune, but she finds a way to get out of trouble with help from the seldom heard about fifth member of the four horseman of the apocalypse. Another good one is Weary Love, that is a funny short poem that tells what happens when the god Commerce takes over for Love. Some other stories here that were very similar that I enjoyed was Fame’s Beloved, The New Death and The New God. If you like short stories and poems that are funny, dark and gives a satirical look at life, you will enjoy The New Death and Others. There are a lot of good ideas in this book, in particular I enjoyed The stories involving the land of Telelee. I enjoy it when authors create their own mythology and I hope to hear more stories set in Telelee from James Hutchings in the future.
The next book I want to talk about is Sudden Death Overtime by Steve Vernon. If you haven’t gotten your fill of hockey this year due to the NHL strike, this book can help. Hope’s End is a tough little town on the Northern Labrador Coast of Canada. When the weather turns cold, old-time hockey player Sprague Deacon and his three elderly friends set up an ice rink and everyone in town plays hockey. So when a black painted tour bus full of vampires comes to town and people start to disappear, there is only one thing to do, challenge them to a hockey game.
Sudden Death Overtime is a horror comedy dripping with blood that has memorable characters and a lot of action. There is a lot of depth to this short story starting with the opening scene where an older woman named Judith contemplates where her life went wrong and how it’s changed over the years. Judith is lonely and fears death which comes for her in the form of a black bus. Sprague and his friends are also over the hill and the vampires represent old age and death. When death comes knocking these Canadians do what you do best and play hockey and whats more fun then hockey playing vampires? If your going to have to face death you need to make it beat you at your own game.
Steve Vernon manages to create some great characters in a short amount of time. The beginning of the book is character driven but when the vampires show up on Sprague’s lawn, it turns to non stop action. There is a lot going on in this book, I like how the style changes midway through and the ending is hilarious. Another thing I enjoyed about this book is the afterword called Time Out which gives you an idea of what inspired the story. Sudden Death Overtime is a lot of fun and will make you want to read more from Steve Vernon.