Book Review: The New Death and others

Title/Author:  The New Death and others by James Hutchings

Genre:  Short Story Collection

Published:  September 27th, 2011 Independently

E-Book (Kindle version), 102 pages.

How I Got This Book:  Received from author for review.

Why I Picked It Up?:  To give the author my honest review of this work.

Book Jacket Blurb:  “Death gets a roommate…

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question…

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain…

44 stories. 19 poems. No whiny vampires. There’s a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it – but from which direction?”

My Review of the Work:

This 100 page work is comprised of 44 short stories and 19 poems. To me, some of the individual stories read like a telling of a mythology, complete with the mythological morals, which is an aspect of this work that I can appreciate.  There are also a lot of vignettes that are purely satirizing the world today, which are humorous.  But then there were other stories  that completely lost me, whether because I didn’t quite understand some of the names/terms that were thrown in to the story, or a drastic switch between the “mythological” elements and the modern elements.

Some of the poems did not sit so well with me.  Most of poems took the very standard 4-line stanza format with some of rhyme scheme.  This is fine.  But what needs to stay consistent is the use of punctuation.  Punctuation in poetry is such a powerful element, and every piece of punctuation (or omitting it) should be purposeful, and there are times where I feel like there was an inconsistency in punctuation usage.  And because of this, the poems irked me.  If you are going to correctly punctuate sentences within the poetic lines, then it needs to be continued throughout.  But “Under the Pyramids” is an example of inconsistent punctuation, where some of his stanzas have correct punctuation, and other stanzas have no punctuation.  And it just doesn’t sit well with me, and it takes away from the enjoyment of the poem itself because the way in which I read it is thrown off.

Despite of some of my unsettling feelings, it is obvious and apparent that James Hutchings has a knack for linguistics; his language usage throughout this work is really effective!  With his language choice, he creates vivid metaphors and powerful descriptions which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  However, with such a large vocabulary, there were times that I felt he threw in a “bigger” word just because he could, and sometimes the vocabulary usage also took away from story being told.
Probably my favorite short story in the bunch was “The End,” which tells a tale of 5 friends who all find out they are each some sort of paranormal creature (vampire, demon, etc) and are now wondering if all of the humans have become extinct.  Just the witticism that fills that story, a long with the intriguing idea of such a paranormal future, made for an interesting thought.  I also really enjoyed the snarky story told in “The Doom that Was Laid Upon Fame”–there is such a truth to that one!

Overall, the flow of this collection of short stories was a little off for me.  While I understand that there does not have to be a connection from story to story, I feel that some sort of flow should be evident in a compilation such as this, and to me there is not.  The order choice, if it was deliberated, is not evident or prominent to me.  Though I did think that the ending poem was well chosen.

My Bookshelf Rating:

I found a lot of good qualities within this Short Story Collection.  However, there is some definite room for polish, and maybe some reorganization/evidence of connection to be more prominent.  Overall, I found many of the pieces in this work to be engaging and humorous, while still others I felt like there was almost “trying to hard” effort.  Hutchings has a great writing style, but something in this short story collection was just lost to me.

I was in no way compensated for this review, and I have given my honest opinion of this work.

Love and A Little Bit of Pixie Dust,


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