Tales To Count On by S.R. Mallery, a unique collection of short stories, contains a variety of genres, including historical, Gothic, and fantasy. They are organized by word count, which the author says often determines the story when written under the constraints of submission guidelines. Interesting concept that developed into a full-blown eclectic combination of historical, contemporary, and mysterious stories.
Full disclosure: I edited and formatted this book. The “work” became a labor of love as I became enamored with the characters and the delightful storytelling ability of Ms. Mallery. Reading them provided me with hours of enjoyment. I’m a fan of S.R. Mallery’s writing, which is what brought us together in the first place. Click here to read my reviews of her other books, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, another collection of short stories, and Unexpected Gifts, a delightful novel of one young woman’s discovery of her roots.
If you’ve ever read any of the O Henry short stories and enjoyed them, you’ll be in for a treat with her newest book. Each one has some type of twist at the end. That’s a tricky task for an author who has to lead the reader down one path and completely change direction by the end to surprise even the most astute detectives. S.R. Mallery is a master at the technique and proves it thoroughly in Tales To Count On.
The craft of short story writing requires a special talent. Maybe that’s why they aren’t as popular as they once were. Maybe it’s because the big name magazines are no longer at the forefront of the publishing world as they were during the heyday of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Parker. Those writers made their names and their leap to literary infamy through the publication of short stories in The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. It takes a talented writer to create a short piece that contains all the same elements within a full-length novel. There must be characterization, believable dialogue, conflict, rising tension, and a climax. There must be a compelling story with mood to set the tone and powerful settings and descriptions. All of these techinques must occur in 500 to 4,000 words. And that’s just what they do in S.R. Mallery’s Tales To Count On.
The range and depth of the stories caused me to sit back in awe of her genius when I first read them. Preparing to write my review, I reread some of them and my awe only increased. She explores issues, such as domestic abuse, mental illness, employer/employee relations, PTSD, and abusive parents. The stories take the readers to varied settings and time periods. Her point of view shifts as a literary technique in one story involving a traffic jam, allowing the reader the unique perspective of voyeuristically peeking into the lives of a varied group of travelers and the impact the stalled vehicles have on each character’s world.
Each of the multi-layered characters are developed with efficient precision from the snarky journalist whose karma comes back to haunt him to the young woman portrayed as a sexy young virgin during the French Revolution. Shocking endings all, so I can’t say much more than I have. What I can say is readers of all preferences will find something to love in this collection of stories that reveal much about the human condition.
Most of all, the shocking endings show the reader that nothing is as it seems on the surface.
If you’re looking for stories that are intelligent, well-designed, and edge-of-the-seat worthy, then you won’t be disappointed with Tales To Count On.
Click below to read my interviews with S.R. Mallery on Author Wednesday.
NOTE: Because Amazon frowns upon authors leaving reviews for other authors, I no longer leave reviews on their retail site. However, I will continue to review books here on my own blog for Book Review Friday. Authors are welcome to share my reviews with their own social media networks and to publish excerpts of my reviews as editorial reviews on Amazon. My list of TBR books is long, but I’m always willing to consider new works. If I enjoy a book, I review it.