book review, fantasy, horror, science fiction, short story

Free Fiction: 4 Reviews

This short collection contains ten flash fiction tales centered around a creepy pasta like website called Aurora Wasteland.

Ashby has a fun, conversational writing style that lends the authenticity these stories need to keep them interesting. There are good ideas behind these tales, some very creepy ones, but they are curtailed by the format.

I gather the Aurora Wasteland is a meta, cross media platform for stories that connect to Ashby’s novels, and I like that.

Ashby is a fan of the single entendre, but apart from the occasional off color joke, I enjoyed this quick read.

I award Welcome to the Aurora Wasteland

Set in the near future, a hacker gets an offer he can’t resist.

In this short story’s introduction, the author explains that this is a deleted chapter from his novel, Munki.

It is difficult to rate General Ned. It is well written and has certainly piqued my interest to read more by the author, but as this is a vignette rather than a full tale, I didn’t find it very satisfying.

I award General Ned

A group of dragons are imprisoned beneath Antarctica, where it’s too cold to use their magic. Over the years, trapped in human form, they reproduce until one child – Man – shows a spark of magic. When that spark is ignited to a flame by a visiting creature, Man must decide whether to help his brethren escape their prison or keep his soul.

I love dragons, I love shape shifters. The plot of this series prequel is exciting and rife with potential. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the writing.

At 161 pages, there are no chapters and only oddly placed scene breaks. Two of the main characters are not named, referred to throughout the book as Man’s mother or Man and Josh’s father.

‘For all intents and purposes’ is repeated far to many times throughout this book. The dragons are referred to as prehistoric numerous times, and dinosaur like on one occasion. I never think of dragons as prehistoric because, well, did they exist in prehistory? And dinosaur like – which kind of dinosaur please? There were a lot.

The dialogue was stilted and unrealistic. Anachronistic similes referring to KFC and pizza ovens threw me out of the story. It took me far to long to piece together who the characters were, where they were and what was happening.

Perhaps, if I’d read the series first, the withholding of information would have thrilled me, but as my first encounter with this world, I found it hard going.

I award Frozen to the Core

Two short stories, Shadows in the Key of Fear and Roland the Headless Mecha Driver, make up Betrayals.

Shadows in the Key of Fear is a science fiction thriller full of animal like aliens. I particularly liked the protagonist, Jaypaas, a dog like creature of a species called Zuul (Ghostbusters reference?).

The world building was a little intense for a short story, but it was an interesting look into the future that the author writes about in his novels.

Roland the Headless Mecha Driver is set in the same universe and involves mercs in training, a trip to the bar, and a ghost story. It was good fun.

I enjoyed reading both these short stories and will look out for the author’s novels.

I award Betrayals

Click here to get these four books, and 28 more as well, free until the end of June.

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