3 days ago
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Exploring Short Stories
Skull Full Of Kisses makes the third book that I have read now by Michael West. The next book I'm reading now is also by him. Skull Full Of Kisses has ten short stories in it that he has written over the years. I will try to give a run down of the stories without giving too much away here.
Jiki: In Japan, a couple of mob members are watching over some type of demon. Koji, who seems to be new to the mob, is one of the two watching over it. The demon seems to know Koji, and the things it knows will change his life forever.
The Bridge: A group of young teens head to a local bridge that people claim is haunted by a girl who drowned in the waters below. One of the girls, Kim, gets more of a scare than she ever thought she would.
Dogs Of War: Ray, a war vet from Desert Storm, has been on the run ever since a buddy of his showed him that demons have been after him. Now they are after Ray, but Ray is tired of running from them and has decided to make a stand.
Trolling: Scott is on vacation in a small sea side town. He has decided to visit a local bar when his eyes find a very nice looking local woman. Scott has hear tales from his friends about one night stands, and thinks this might be his lucky night if he can get to know her. The bartender doesn't seem to keen about Scott doing this though, for a very good reason.
Einstein's Slingshot: A group of people are trapped in a book store after and earthquake has hit the local area. They aren't trapped there because of the earthquake though. What looks like dinosaurs are on the loose and haunting our little group. How could and earthquake cause dinosaurs to appear though?
God Like Me: Dylan has a crap life, at least that is how he sees it. Stuck in an office job that he hates, with a boss he hates even more, and a wife that he hates yet more. Then he discovers a power that he has had since a child, but has kept down and forgotten about until now. You know what one says about power though, right?
To Know How To See: Sean is part of a deep space mining crew, along with his girlfriend Carla. After getting back from a mining operation, it is Sean's turn to help pilot the ship, which he admits is just checking the systems while out in deep space. While sitting there talking to Lee, Sean notices that there is something wrong with Lee's face. Sean starts to believe that something has taken over Lee while Carla and him was off the ship. Is he losing his mind or is there some truth to this?
For Her: Jeff and his wife Brooke are heading to the Bunny Hop Ranch. It seems that Brooke would like to have a threesome, and has arranged one at the Ranch. While Jeff is going along with it on the outside, inside he is questioning everything. Like does his wife want to leave him for someone else? Has she preferred girls despite being married to him? What he doesn't know is that Brooke has arranged for something else as well, something Jeff most likely won't like at all.
Sanctuary: Zhang is part of a Chinese military who are being sent into Tibet in order to "liberate and protect" the monks that live there. Something has fallen on the men though, killed all but Zhang and one other. Almost frozen, they hear the howls of whatever attacked them, but they also see a monastery up ahead. They get there before whatever it is the storm can find them. The monks seem to know what is going on, but who's side are the monks on?
Goodnight: Tyler has lost his mother and doesn't understand why. His grandfather, Ira, understands the young boy's pain all too well and decides that he will try to give the boy some peace if he can. Ira tells his grandson about the time when Ira and his twin brother was playing around the farm when one day Isaac was hurt very badly. Their father races off to get a doctor, but Ira knows it isn't looking very good for his brother. Ira decides that he will try to trick Death when he comes for his brother, but will the ploy work?
I'm pretty sure I said this in my last book review I did for Michael West, but I will say it again anyway. Michael West is quickly becoming one of my favorite horror writers. He is getting a very good following on Facebook, but he still isn't a name that a lot of people know about yet. As I do with no name horror movies, I'm glad that I can help spread the word about Michael West as well. I'm not a real big fan of short stories, but I will read them if I like the author. I can honestly say that I wasn't disappointed by one of the stories found in Skull Full Of Kisses. Of course there are some that I loved, and some that I thought was just okay. As a book overall though, I thought it was a nice set of stories.
My favorite of the bunch is actually a tie. There are two stories that really stood out to me, but for different reasons. The first one to really stand out to me was To Know How To See. It was one of those stories where you will likely change your mind several times as to what is really happening. Is it all in Sean's mind, or are there really aliens? West wisely leaves it open for you to decide, which is my favorite kind of ending. The other story was Goodnight. This was a pretty simple story really, but it can tug on the heart strings in more than one place. It deals with the death of a loved one, which is something everyone can relate to. The ending has a nice little surprise to it as well.
The second story found in Skull Full Of Kisses, The Bridge, was one I knew as soon as it started. This story was intended for the book Cinema Of Shadows, and you can find it in that novel. However, the story that is in this book is a little different from the final version that ended up in the novel. It was interesting reading this short and seeing how much the story had changed. It didn't change a whole lot, but if you have read both versions, you will see a difference.
Another interesting part of the book is the last few pages. It is rare for an author to put in notes about the story, or stories as is the case here, so this was a nice surprise. I happened on them when I was checking to see how many pages was in the book. After I would read each story, I will flip to the back and read the note on it. It made each story a little more interesting since often West would explain where the story came from. If West ever puts together another book of shorts, I do hope he includes notes again.
While this isn't the best book by West I have read, that still goes to The Wide Game, I still enjoyed my time with Skull Full Of Kisses. It offered a nice variety as far as the stories told. I'm curious to see why West writes about demons so much though. They seem to show up a lot. I think that if you are interested in giving Michael West a try, Skull Full Of Kisses would be a great book to try out to see if you like his style and story telling.
3 out of 5 I'm not sure I want to be kissed by a skull