Sunday, 4 January 2015

Book Review - Cold Winter's Night, edited by Rhoda d'Ettore

This collection of short fiction from independent writers contains, as advertised, a wide variety of material.

Several of the stories have merit. DiStroya's zombie story, Home For The Holidays, was delightful, and a refreshing departure from the usual zombie apocalypse that has become so tediously ubiquitous of late. JJ Francesco's Glimpse, a sweet little traditional Christmas story, is very nicely done. Another traditional Christmas tale, The Gift, by Jayson True Blood, was charming. Regina Pickett Garson's The Most Enduring Gift was charming and quite well written. Similarly A Fitting Gift by Nicola McDonagh, a chilling tale of horror, well thought out and executed. Editor Rhoda D'Ettore's own contribution, Love, Revolution Style, was nicely done, although I felt the ending was rather rushed and much more could have been made of it. The Professor's Pleasures, by Fallen Kittie, got off to an excellent start with some quite powerful writing, but failed dismally half way through when it inexplicably descended into pornography. A waste of a fine idea.

Some, on the other hand, were of an unmitigated dreadfulness that suggested to me that, due to a dearth of submissions, all were published without selection.

Taken as a whole, the book, for me, epitomised the criticisms so commonly made of independently published work. Every single story desperately needed proofreading, and the whole thing had the air of having been thrown together in a great hurry, perhaps to meet a deadline. The formatting for Kindle is appalling, and one wondered if it had even been downloaded and checked in the headlong rush to publication. There is no table of contents, which in an anthology, particularly one published as an ebook, is a grave omission and most inconvenient to the reader. The editor's decision to present the stories alphabetically by the authors' surnames, understandable as it may be from the point of view of equity, was the single most unwise decision in the entire enterprise, resulting as it did in the opening story's being the worst of the lot, and doubtless costing the group many sales as it occupies Amazon's 'Look Inside' position.

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