BOOK REVIEW: Joy to the Worlds

God rest ye merry Geeky Men

‘Joy to the Worlds’ brings together eight short works that explore mysteries across time and space. Ranging from dark dystopian worlds to comedic retro-futures, four diverse writers find new ways to combine these disparate worlds into something anyone will enjoy.

The Synopsis was given to us as below:

‘What do you get when you mix mystery and speculative fiction, then toss in the holidays for good measure? A mobster Santa, genetic hanky-panky, Victorian villages, time-travelling detectives, a Krampus, eerie bell spirits, and more–this collection of short cross-genre fiction is the perfect counterpoint to traditional holiday reading!’

I have to confess that I was very tempted by this description but the reality of reading these short stories was not what I had expected at all. For the most part the stories themselves delivered an entertaining, relatively light read as could be expected for a novel that is apparently providing a holiday reading option. The stories are not too challenging, short of course, and not too demanding in their style.

The stories come from the pen of both established and debut authors. Maia Chance, whose books include ‘Snow White Red-Handed’, ‘Cinderella Six Feet Under’, and ‘Come Hell or Highball’,  IPPY award-winning science fiction author Janine A. Southard whose works include ‘Queen & Commander’, science fiction and fantasy bestseller Raven Oak author of ‘Class-M Exile’ offers a look into the gothic past; debut fiction author and art expert G. Clemans who is a founding instructor of Critical & Contextual Studies at Cornish College of the Arts.

I can understand the gimmick of writing a series of Christmas novels but, in a couple of the stories, the Christmas reference was forced and so in some ways could have benefitted from being included in a standard omnibus. In the cases where it did not work, it was distracting from what was otherwise very entertaining writing.

However, the stories that did work were clever and evocative of the mystery and thrill of Christmas by turns creepy and sometimes amusing. Some were dark, others more light-hearted and almost comic in their style. At times I felt I was reading a story meant for a younger reader but then the next story would begin and I would be transported to a different, and often darker, world. This collection is certainly as diverse as it needs to be to satisfy a broad audience.

The only other critique that I would level is that each story is prefaced by a foreword from one of the other writers whose writing punctuates and also sets a thought in the reader’s head of what to expect forcing a kind of prejudice before the story begins. This feels a little unfair as one wants to enter the story without any preconception and simply absorb the writing and the universe the author has worked so hard to create without anyone else’s thoughts to distract. It was also an entertaining idea to have the author’s thoughts about why they wrote the story at the end but the collective effect of the foreword and the author’s interview at the end turns what should be an evocative reading experience into what feels like a marketing tool for the authors and this is distracting and a little irritating.

Overall this was an entertaining read apart from a few jarring elements and would make a good, light holiday choice.

GS Rating: 3/5

GS Blogger: The Aviator

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