Cruel Works Of Nature (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Author : Gemma Amor
Year/Date Published : November 2018
Genre / Tags : Horror, Short Stories, Anthologies
Mood : Fun yet disturbing
Formats : Paperback, eBook
# of Pages : 342 pages (Paperback)
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but supernatural curiosities brought it back.
A Jack-in-the-Box made from skulls.
A monster egg in the mail.
A sketchbook bridging imagination with reality.
What other wondrous and terrible secrets will these survivors tell?
CRUEL WORKS OF NATURE is a collection of 11 horror novellas about strange and exciting supernatural encounters. Reality and the fantastic are blended seamlessly in these immersive tales, with plenty of mystery to lead the reader on a thrilling journey. Some stories are dark and macabre while others whimsical and lighthearted, together ensuring constant surprises and terrifying twists to keep you reading until the very last page.
Content Warnings – Violence, death, some gore, killer spider apocalypse in one particularly story. If you have arachnophobia, very much beware.
When perusing the Kindle Unlimited selection for the first time during a 3-month trial I tried a couple of months ago, my first impression was that there are so many books to choose from- including many little known indie titles. Who knows what’s worth checking out and what isn’t? I could just sense that, as is the case with traditionally published books, there are so many great gems that just slip through the cracks. I go on this tangent because Cruel Works of Nature is one of those books I would have never found or thought to read. Turns out, it’s so good and worth the while.
The writing style is very inviting and conversational, often making use of first or second person narrative. Very subjective, but I really love second person narration, draws me immediately into a story. When toying with giving this a four or five stars on Goodreads, I finally just went for five stars. Reason being that if you like short horror stories- think Fear Street/Goosebumps, but for adults- this is a collection well worth checking out. It also gives me some strong Tales From The Crypt-like vibes. The nostalgia factor from that made this one of the most fun reading experiences I’ve had in a long time.
I’ll start with the most praise-worthy element. The variety among the stories and voices there-in is impressive and broad. Each of these 11 stories has a differing protagonist, setting, theme, tone, horror subject, and voice. I bring up voice because each protagonist really comes off uniquely. There were some I liked and some I disliked. They vary so much in age, personality, and of course the horror element of each story is wildly different.
We have silly types of horror like killer cows and an apocalypse spurred by giant man-eating spiders. And there are more serious stories too, centering around the loss of a child or spouse, or the dissolution of a marriage. Some of the stories give off a sci-fi or dystopian vibe. I was constantly surprised by each new story. Even the prevailing moods of the characters caught me off guard several times. Most of the styles of horror present here vary from cheesy fun to thought-provoking, and a few of them are grisly and gory.
The only downside I’ll mention is that the quality of the stories can be uneven in both appeal and writing. A few of the stories were in need of better proofreading. One of the earlier stories had a serious over-use of commas. However, this was only an issue in a few stories and the vast majority of them are solidly written with only minor issues. The last two stories had, by far, the best writing and characterization. They’re also two of the longest in the collection. It was at that point I realized that most of the stories- while fun and consistently enjoyable- were lacking in lovable characters. This is more of a personal preference, but the tension in a horror scenario is so much more impactful when I’m desperately worried if character(s) are going to die or not.
Also of note are the illustrations. I wish there were more. There is so much horrifying imagery within these stories that could make for some fascinating artwork. What’s here is well drawn and I always thumbs up the presence of bonus artwork in books of this type, but the style is kind of subtle.
In closing, this is a unique collection. A perfect read for October.
Overall Rating – 9/10
Why You Should Try It – Eleven highly original and wildly varying short stories. Lots of different horror elements and a sense of unpredictability about what will be the next subject. The protagonists are very unique from one other and run a wide gamut. It’s great to see fun horror anthologies geared toward adults.
Why You Might Not Like It – Some of the protagonists are unlikable. While I liked nearly all of the stories, the last two really outclass most of what comes before. Do heed the content warnings if needed.
Cruel Works Of Nature (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Have you read Cruel Works of Nature or want to? Are there any horror anthologies/short story collections that you highly recommend? I look forward to your thoughts as always and thanks for reading this review. ~ Kitty