Cruel Works of Nature by Gemma Amor
Cruel Works of Nature provides 11 stories, accompanied by 11 original sketches, from UK author Gemma Amor. Reading this on the Kindle, as in, black and white, I won’t comment on the images except to say Gemma is a much better artist than I will ever be.
As to the stories, they run the gamut of horror nicely, ranging from gothic to gore. It’s hard to discuss short stories without spoiling them, but as a unit, they are well-written and Amor has fine control of exposition, description, and dialogue; the editing and proofreading is great, as neither are visible (which is as it should be).
And as a stateside rube, it’s fun to read spellings like “pyjamas” and dawdle over the occasional “very British” phrase or construct.
The strongest of the collection are not located in the USA and feature a female narrator, but the variety of locations and narrative voice (beyond gender, some are first person POV; others, third) help keep the stories fresh and different. Being short stories, a number of them creative and twisty, I’ll try not to spoil anything, but stand-outs include: hungry cattle, a car-crash Phoenix, a very naughty Santa Claus, and a sketchbook that pops right off the page.
And that’s about all that can be said without ruining one thing or another. Some of the stories are atmospheric, others are extreme and high on action: none are skip-me dull. Also, none are related or have crossover characters. Each story is fairly consistent in terms of approximate length, making this is a perfect carry-along for those times when you have ten or twenty minutes to burn, but don’t want to pause a novel or novella.
In sum, this is a single-author anthology that needs to grace your nightstand or Kindle.