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on May 01, 2012 :
A mixed bag, or should I say a mixed garden plot? The title story is a tidy tale of the unflappable meeting the inexplicable, with nice dry humour. Nobody Has to Know is brief and chilling, told all in dialogue. Now And In the Hour of Our Death is touching (I have to wonder whether it carried the same impact in the original anthology). Why They Call It That is pretty much a shaggy dog story.
The writing throughout is smooth and professional, as one would expect, with touches of lyricism as in Please to See the King. The oddest story is The Little Prune Who Couldn't Talk, a sort of V for Vendatta via Aesop. The strongest (no surprise it grew up into a novel) is Bad Blood, a scary campfire story told in a convincing adolescent voice.
Entertaining brief reads for spare moments.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on March 16, 2012 :
Seven stories previously published in magazines and anthologies, from a couple of short gag or sting-in-the-tail yarns to a complete YA horror tale that makes up half the volume. Smooth and assured writing throughout; however, readers who crave a strong sense of closure may find themselves frustrated. Too many of the stories have resolutions that could be described as "The interesting thing that was happening stops happening," or "The mystery element is revealed to be something that fits within the theme of the original anthology."
The best is saved for last; "Bad Blood" is an exciting YA horror-adventure story, set on a 1980s wilderness trip. Through well-chosen incident and dialogue, the characters are quickly made to feel like the teenagers you really knew back in high school, or would have liked to. The plot is solid, keeping the tension building through twists that keep you guessing if and how the scared protagonists will rise to the occasion. The ending is solid on its own but also opens the door to further stories of Val Sherwood and her friends.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)