Short Stories by L J Blount

Illustrated by Dave Bowlin

Reviewed by Paul McAvoy

I did not really know what to expect from this little chapbook, one of several published by D Press. It contains four stories by some guy I had never heard of, but whose blurb informs us he is also know as Myth Spinner. But that is the aim of D Press, to publish chap books and short fiction by up and coming writers.

So, to what I now hold in my hands... Hm, a very subtle cream cover of a male who appears to be emerging from out of the mist, or should that be the mist is slowly moving from him? What about the rest of the art work by Dave Bowlin..? At first glance, a bit hit and miss, but after a few more perusals it really grows on you. The same can be said for the stories, too.

Blood Experiments seems to stutter along for the first few paragraphs, but when it speeds up you are drawn in to the tale. Layne is a young girl who seems to be part of some experiment to rid the 'demons' from her by Soreen, her captor/doctor. She knows no life other than the one she has in the 'lab' and if she does not behave herself, Soreen punishes her. The story ticks along nicely until its conclusion and you feel the need to read it in its entirety.

A Tale of a Frozen Place is a story I enjoyed immensely. It is a total contrast to the first, and it is beautifully written. A lovely fantasy tale, it is about fairies and pixies in a land of kings and queens. The story centres around Ember, a pixie who is disgruntled with life and cannot see the beauty that is all around her - not, that is, until the day she meets Nix, who takes her to a dark and frozen castle.

Accessory is an odd tale that slowly swallows you in, even though you are unsure whether or not to read on, for fear it might leave you cold. After the first page you are left wondering what the hell is going on, but soon the story unfolds and it is very enjoyable. I don't want to give too much away, only to say that there are echoes of The Minority Report here, but not too many.

Isolation is pretty sad, but is compulsive reading. Aspen (the author likes his weird names!) is lying on a carpet. An up and coming starlet of the movie world, she is replaying the events of the previous evening and slowly but surely the reader gets to find out the horrific reason as to why she is there. In pain from a beating, she is comforted by an angel.

There is an air of melancholy about the stories and there is a sadness within. The isolation and dependency that Layne has for Soreen is very unsettling; you find yourself feeling very sorry for Ember; Accessory has such a sorry life, until later... and you have to feel extremely sorry for Aspen, the up and coming starlet of the final story, having ended up that way. This is no bad thing though, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed these stories.

I will most certainly look out for L J Blount again...

When the Mist Clears, A5, 36pp, £1.00 p&p

For further details of how to purchase, visit the Bookshop here.

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