By Matt Dinniman

Reviewed by Garry Charles

Before I start I must admit that Trailer Park Fairy Tales was purchased as one of those impulse buys whilst I was mooching around the dealers room at the FantasyCon in Walsall. Once home it ended up on a bookshelf and it was only as I was packing for a house move recently that I saw the spine staring out at me and thought, 'Oh what the hell, I'll give it a go'.

And I have to confess that, although most of the stories are the type of thing I wouldn't usually read, I loved them all except one (which I will come to in time).

Matt Dinniman has a talent with short work that has impressed me nearly as much as another author who has recently surfaced on the paperback market (Joe Hill, who I hope to review after this. If Pete would like me too).Matt has managed to put together a varied collection of tales and only two of them could be classed as true horror stories. The others may not be horror, but like an episode of Twin Peaks they are filled with characters who sparked my interested and in a couple of cases I wanted so much more than a short story (later).

So let me begin with the first of 12 diverse tales and see where it takes us.

THE ESCAPE VELOCITY OF MILLICENT MCDEARLY: A school dinner lady with the mind of a mathematical genius gives us a tale that is quirky, funny and heart warming. A great start that leaves you expecting more of the same. A clever trick because the next story is far from similar.

BAD KARMA AT THE INTERSTELLAR SWAP MEET: Car boot sales, alien planets and a strange businessman who trades in human souls. It shouldn't work half as well as it does, but Matt makes the unbelievable appear normal and wraps it up nicely with a sad yet happy ending.

THE BEGGAR AND THE DEVIL: The first of what I consider to be a horror story. Witchcraft in the playground and stolen souls is the order of the day and a nice little twist at the end that was perfect.

THE LIBERATION OF FATHER RICHARDS: Horror again, but like the one before it is nothing gory or in your face. Instead Matt delivers a well told tale of possession and juvenile exorcism.

BEASTS: This tale is one of my favourites and slightly reminiscent of King's The Body. In place of a dead boy we have a rhinoceros. A moving tale of dead animals and childhood friendship.

THE VIRGIN: The only story that I didn't enjoy. It just didn't sit well with the other tales and could have been so much better. But, hell, one out of twelve ain't bad.

VERONA; HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE: A short, sweet take on Romeo and Juliet. 100 word flash fiction is a hard art to master, but Matt makes it look easy.

THE CHAMPION: Another of my favourites and the first short that had me salivating for more. An ex Siamese twin spam sculpting hitchhiker and the guy nice enough to pick him up on the beginning of what could have been the most awesome road story ever. Excellent.

THE FORTUNE COOKIE: Man against a novelty designated fate. Who wins? Buy the book and find out.

CORRESPONDENCE: A warning to men that infidelity and the internet do not make good bedfellows. All of you out there that are considering being a cheat should read this one carefully before putting away the midlife crisis erection and zipping up your fly. Enough said.

A TRAILER PARK FAIRY TALE: Does exactly what it says on the cover. This is how fairy tales are in real life. After nearly reaching the finish I started to imagine how good these tales would be if made into movies. HBO should pull their finger out and scoop up the rights.

HURRICANE BONNIE: Matt finishes with the strongest and the best of the stories. I beg him now to sit down and turn this one into a novel. The two main characters obviously have so much back story that deserves to be delved into. Matt, do it for the reader.

So, in conclusion I can only say that this book is well worth the £5.00 price tag. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would and I think you will too.

Trailer Park Fairy Tales by Matt Dinniman. Tpb, 160pp, £5.00. Published by Elastic Press, 85 Gertrude Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 4SG, UK

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