ARC review, book review, Crystal Lake, horror, short story

New Release: It Could Be Anyone’s Leg edited by A.M Symes

This anthology of flash fiction was written by the members of the Dead Birds writing group, set up by the MFA alumni and alumni adjacent friends of the Augsburg University MFA program in Minnesota.

Inspired by one of the authors finding a (nonhuman) leg in their garden, each story is themed around the line ‘it could be anyone’s leg’.

The first story, I found a leg bone in my yard, is by the editor of the anthology, A.M Symes. The pacing of this story is incredible, with details drip fed to the reader to create a complex whole. There is a lot in this well told tale, and it made me think about the ethics of the situation and what I would do in the character’s shoes.

Not just any leg by Jesse Lawrence is a well told story about the importance of choosing good quality ingredients. The ambiguity of the narrator will add to the story, or detract from it, depending on the reader.

My favorite story of the anthology, The Widow Maker by Jen Shutt, reads like an epic fantasy, and crams a lot of world building, intrigue, character development, and animals, into a flash piece without feeling in any way unbalanced.

The leg incident by Judy Niemi Johnson is a humorous, and completely realistic, depiction of a Sunday morning that turns out to be more exciting than most for a couple of Minnesotan men. While I could see and hear the characters in their native state, I could imagine the scene playing out similarly in Ireland (minus the snow).

In the weeds by Kate Tremaine is a lovely little science fiction tale about a woman finding a bionic leg on her lawn. I loved the world building and theme, and the story opens up lots of questions that are fun to think about.

My favorite play of the anthology (and the only play of the anthology), Saving Birds (a short play) by Jayne Carlson, starts with an absurd, almost Monty Pythonesque scene between two men in a pet store, before developing into a hilarious (and biting) satire. I’d love to see this produced.

Maybe the third time will be the charm by Patricia Fox has a lovely conversational tone that almost makes you believe this tale of a chicken foot really happened.

Probably the weakest story of the anthology, Remember Me by Jen Kain shows a brother and sister reuniting in a vignette that didn’t work for me.

The final story, The Fractionated Townsfolk of Schadenfreude by Andrew Marks, is weird fiction with some nice imagery, but I couldn’t get behind the theme.

While a couple of the nine stories didn’t work for me, I enjoyed the rest and I recommend this anthology for its imagination and scope around the same prompt. Who knew a leg could inspire such creativity?

I award It Could Be Anyone’s Leg

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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