Having not read any works by this author before I was hence unsure of what to expect when offered ‘shades of grey’ to read, but I was certainly not expecting to be as overwhelmed by it as I was. Upon sitting down to read this book that is a work comprising of three individual short stories (part one being ‘shades of grey’, part two being ‘there and back again’ and part three ‘down the Rabbit hole’), I sat transfixed for several hours lost within the authors work reluctant to move and somewhat disappointed when I had finished. Each story was unique and completely singular showing how diverse a writer Michael Cargill is, and how universal these stories are that will appeal to so many different kinds of reader.
Part one ‘shades of grey’ instantly captured my attention and I was immediately drawn into the story from the very first few lines. After only a short amount of time the reader suddenly encounters an unexpected twist within the tale, which turns a somewhat predictable beginning of a story into something exciting and that made me want to read on as I sat in tense anticipation and excitement. This was certainly cleaver and I loved how I learnt so much about the main character strait away, without enduring any lengthy history or long descriptions; the fast-pace was set and the momentum was continued throughout. I loved the descriptions and the use of metaphors to create vivid imagery, for an example I loved the line; “…felt as if they had been cleanly sawn off and someone had stuffed angry bees into the wounds.” Just great writing! Another intriguing twist was when you actually found out the main characters supposed connection to the UK government, but which contrapuntally leans towards crime and the darker side of life. How he described his character was completely engaging and how he thought of his actions like a ‘show’ was a fascinatingly brilliant way of shedding light on the criminal mind. I loved the use of flashbacks and how it flicked from the present to the past, helping to develop the reader’s understanding of the main character and storyline. It was utterly readable, full of fast-paced action and completely engrossing, with one particular description reminding me of a film called ‘Taken’. The conversational style made it feel as if you were conversing with the main character. The use of short sentences also helped to add pace and highlight the intense drama.
Part two ‘there and back again’ completely juxtaposed part one entirely, and which instantly transported me to the battleground with its atmospheric & realistic portrayal, that touched upon all the senses. The reader is thrown headlong into all the action and taken on a personal journey through the eyes of the main character. The soldier’s innocence and the futility of war is emphasized throughout, with all the realism & horror. Part three ‘down the rabbit hole’ was ever so sinister and mentally impacting hence It has stayed on my mind since. The relationships and emphasis surrounding the violent father is so clearly depicted, that you can almost feel what the characters are feeling. There was a lingering feeling of foreboding, an eerie presence out of the corner of your eye that kept me in utter suspense and tense throughout. It felt always as if there was something more apparent than met the eye, and the tension and drama built to an exciting climax. The only element that left me despondent was the cliffhanger ending which especially on this story I would have preferred not to have, and since reading ‘shades of grey’ I am now longing to read more.Completely brilliant, 100% engrossing and something that as someone who does not read short stories very often it is surprising that I cannot enthuse enough about this book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)