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on June 18, 2013 :
Book Info: Genre: Short-story anthology/Magical Realism
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: those who enjoy magical, lyrical short stories
Trigger Warnings: murder
My Thoughts: First of all, my apologies to the author. I've had this book for almost two years and just hadn't read it yet. I had originally planned to take these books as I received them, but found that just wasn't realistic, as I would find myself just not in the mood for something, which can adversely affect my opinion, so I gave myself permission to just read what appealed to me at the moment. So, sorry it's taken so long!
At any rate, like the previous book I read, this was an anthology of short stories. Each takes place in Bangkok. The language is lovely, lyrical and beautiful to read, although any plot is mostly hidden underneath symbolism and subterfuge. The underlying theme is a set of strange and mystical boxes; they spread through all the stories in the set.
There's not much I can say about the book because with short stories you can't really discuss the plot or story arc or character development. But if you enjoy stories that blend beautiful language with mysterious symbolism, you should like this book. I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this e-book from the author in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Supernatural forces and secret societies descend on modern Bangkok as a series of mysterious black boxes surface into the lives of five remarkable individuals in this magic realism collection of five short stories. As this cross-genre piece modulates through elements of the psychological mystery, horror, the thriller, the detective mystery, adventure and romance, it explores classic Western themes—the Fall, the Temptation, Pandora’s box—in an Eastern setting. The book is ultimately a study of the human obsession with the unknown.
(reviewed long after purchase)
Sift Book Reviews
on Aug. 07, 2011 :
Those who follow my reviews know I use a very structured format, which I'm completely abandoning to talk about this book because I don't believe the categories would do justice to my reactions.
First, I want to start with what I liked. The concept was ridiculously intriguing, which is (obviously) what led me to choose this book for review. The unconventional setting was a breath of fresh air. Occasionally there was a sentence so profound, I had to stop and read over it a few times to soak it in.
However, the first four stories were difficult for me to read. I couldn't find a reason to care about the characters or what was going on. I found myself frequently confused and felt bogged down by over-description. Description that, if used in moderation, would have actually been quite good.
The author says the stories have an "admittedly lyric narrative style" but it's more than that. An inconsistent POV was beyond frustrating and the meta aspect with the storyteller didn't add to the story. Considering how each one is supposedly a "short story," there was never a satisfying resolution to the first four stories, which left me disappointed. I'd like to clarify to ensure you it's not just because the "endings" were open-ended, which I actually enjoy when done well.
Overall, I had to force myself to return to these stories and would not have read on if I wasn't reading for review. If I had been evaluating these four stories alone, my rating would probably be one star.
The fifth and final story "Ati" is an entirely different ... story. (If you'll forgive me.) Apart from spending a little too much time (IMO) describing the city from Ati's perspective, the over-description is gone, as is the confusion. The resolution is satisfying, if depressing. Rating this story individually, I would give it four stars out of five.
I chose to assign an overall rating of two stars because you have to find your way through the eighty pages of the first four stories to read the last story, which clocks in at around 40 pages.
I know that this review sounds disparaging, so I would also like to say that I would encourage Mr. Robinson to continue writing because I do believe he has considerable talent and believe, with further practice and study of his genre (& perhaps objective critique partners), he could be a contender in the book world. And anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't give false praise, so I'm not just saying this to soften the blow.
I would like to say that I don't recommend this collection to anybody, but I know there are probably people out there who might enjoy them so I encourage you to check out the free podcasts of some of the stories on the writer's website before making a decision to purchase.
Review by: Sarah of www.siftreviews.com
Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
(reviewed long after purchase)