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on April 02, 2013 :
A short collection of haunting tales a little different from the rest of the pack, with just enough horror to satisfy. This was a perfect lunchtime read - a "real" horror collection, in that the characters who so unfortunately starred in each piece, were as different and engrossing a set of personalities as a reader could ever want. Two thumbs up to Rob Grindstaff - I'll be back for more.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on June 20, 2012 :
I find myself once again enamored by the fluid imagination of Author, Robb Grindstaff. Tales rich with detail and emotion unfold in this brilliant collection of shorts. “Sonoran Dreams” offers readers three very different stories that all have one common element - a haunting plot that develops in the setting of the Sonoran Desert. Though each story is but a handful of pages, through carefully crafted plot points and precise detail, each story encompasses all the elements and intrigue of a full-length novel.
Desert Rain: Grindstaff delves into the depths of darkness in this story about a woman (Cordelia) who awaits the arrival of a life-long haunt; a being who betrothed her at a birth and is determined to consummate their union… no matter how many times she kills him. Despite the horrific plot, it reads with poetic perfection as readers experience every terrifying moment, in gruesome detail, in which Cordelia must face her unwanted suitor.
Desert Walk: When the recession robs Denny of everything he had, his home, his car, his wife… and threatens to destroy his business, a moment of self-reflection sends him on a pilgrimage through the desert to rediscover himself as he tries to find Hope. This tale of rising up from “rock bottom” offers a unique and clever dual perspective as readers struggle with Denny through his trials in the desert and suffer with his wife who is desperately trying to find him.
Desert Nights: The third and final tale in the “Sonora Dreams” collection takes readers to a late night party with a group of restless teens who often gather under the power lines in the desert to pay homage to a friend they lost in their youth. When alcohol and loud music can’t hold their interest, the introduction of a gun to the party creates another unexpected tragedy for the group of friends.
What makes this collection of stories truly unique and enjoyable is the variation of flavor Grindstaff offers readers not only in the plot and themes, but in how he reveals each tale: pushing readers into the vivid, sensory-filled experiences of Cordelia in Desert Rain; interchanging points-of-view while pulling from past and present events in Desert Walk; creating a compelling set of characters (that truly have such enormous depth, even though we only get to spend one brief night with them) through which the story comes to life… Grindstaff shows a multidimensional art in his writing ability - the mark of a very skilled story-teller with a remarkably unique voice.
I hope this is just a sampling of more short story collections to come from Robb Grindstaff.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
Allison M. Dickson
on June 04, 2012 :
What a beautiful collection this is. Haunting tales. A certain loneliness and desolation permeates through them, much like the desert landscape itself. But unlike the desert, these stories are not dry. They are an oasis of lush and fertile pages, rich with vibrant characters and beautiful language. The first tale, "Desert Rain," is the only one of the three that could be considered a genre piece, and Grindstaff does an excellent job of painting a chilling horror story of a woman revisited yearly by a demon who is intent on marrying her. Only Cordelia doesn't intend to go quietly.
In "Desert Walk," we meet a man who has lost all his money, his house, and his wife. He takes a long trek through the desert as a way to redeem himself, and nearly loses his life. But it isn't so much the plot but the clever way that Grindstaff unfolds it through the use of juxtapositions in time and place that makes the story such a great read. It's a story that asks to consider what we might gain when we've lost everything.
And finally, in "Desert Nights," we learn why teenagers, alcohol, and guns are probably not such a good idea as a group of friends gathers for a late night party under at their favorite desert haunt under the power lines to mourn of one of their mates who died in an accident. What I appreciated most about this story was how very distinct the characters were. It's very hard to develop such a wide cast of people in a short story, but Grindstaff does it almost effortlessly.
Sonoran Dreams is the work of someone who knows exactly what he's doing, who paints beautiful pictures with the skill and ease of a seasoned artist. Pick this up and lose yourself among the saguaro for awhile. You'll be glad you did.
(reviewed the day of purchase)