For his second published work, Alexander Smith packs a plethora of thought-provoking circumstances into seven stories that take up 60 total pages. While each story is short, Smith manages to spin a complete tale, proving that less can be more. He created intriguing story ideas that all encompass other realms of reality, though most of the occurrences don’t stray too far from the current world in which we live.
Despite his stories’ brevity, Smith doesn’t leave many unanswered questions. There were times when I was wondering how everything would be able to be wrapped up when there were only a few paragraphs left, but each found their way to a logical conclusion. There were parts that I wish were elaborated, but then I realized that each story dealt with either a few brief moments or one person’s supernatural point of view.
Smith’s strength lies in his inventive story ideas. It seems as if he made a list of “what if” questions and used that as the baseline for the stories in this collection (a look at the back of the book alludes to this). This idea in itself is incredibly innovative to anyone who has ever attempted the difficult task of creating with the written word. Smith uses this exercise and enthralls the reader with each story.
The story that sticks with me the most is “The Test.” While there’s no time setting, it takes place in what could be the not-too-distant future as the government attempts to come up with a way to proactively stop mass shooters. A first person narrative that is terrifying and somewhat plausible, this really struck a chord with me. I’ve spent a good amount time during my zoned out daydreams dissecting the thoughts and feelings that plot line left me with. It’s his most powerful tale in a book full of strong stories.
Smith manages to make the supernatural feel like it could be a seeming any day situation. He has a gifted way to show the strange and how it lurks out there in plain sight. These seven stories are enticing and authentic, and made this reader eager for his next work.