BOOK REVIEW: Sweet Home by Carys Bray

This collection of short stories by Carys Bray is one of the best anthologies by an English author for a long while. I found this so entertaining as I am a parent of two beautiful girls that are around the same age as some of the children in these stories. Whilst also seeing myselfand my extended family within these well-crafted stories; I don’t know whether this was good or bad but enjoyed the ride nonetheless!

Carys is able to blend a perfect collection of short stories within the ‘Sweet Home’ anthology. Carys includes stories which are tender, funny, strange and outright bonkers. All of these stories are delivered in a tender way with a strong voice which further showcases Carys’ ability as a skilled raconteur.

The following are specific to some of the short stories in the collection;

‘Everything a Parent Needs to Know’ was a story that resonated deeply with me. As parents we are bamboozled from the moment our children enter the world by what we should and shouldn’t do and Carys masterfully delivers this story at a level many parents can engage with and find very funny.

‘Just in Case’ is a haunting tale whichdrew comparisons with Edgar Allan Poe’s story the ‘Tell Tale Heart’. The delivery from Carys is spot on and as a personal preference the end of the story leaves the conclusion and fate of the child in the mind of the reader. For me this story had everything a short story needs to make an impact.

‘Sweet Home’ is beautifully written, structured and delivered short story. It is a whimsical tale about an old woman (who could be a witch) building a house in the forest out of sweets and cake. One can’t help but draw comparisons with the fairy-tale ‘Hansel and Gretel’. When drawing this comparison to the original story by the Brothers Grimm I thought that this was or could be a great origin story for the witch. Carys seems at home in this mythical world and delivers a stunning short story making me wonder if she will be returning to this genre again or writing a collection of fables / fairy-tales?

‘The Baby Isle’ is again another fantastic short story; this one is a little out there with elements of science fiction detailing a warped future where babies can be purchased in your local supermarket, you can also grab yourselves a bargain in the reduced section. This is one of my favourite stories in this collection and is delivered by someone who seems to have honed their skill and who feels at home in many different genres.

‘Love: Terms and Conditions’ is by far my favourite short story in ‘Sweet Home’.This story pretty much sums up how my parents are like when we go to visit them; requesting love off our children with bribes of chocolate and many terms and conditions. I very rarely laugh out loud when reading a book but I have to admit I did when reading this – ‘If they saw you more often…’ I apologised, as I proffered my lips. ‘It’s such a long way to drive,’ my mother said as she closed the front door, consigning the distances she and my father drive during their transatlantic holidays to an entirely separate category of travel. – It reminded me of the many times I have spoken to my wife about this exact issue on our journey home after visiting!

There are many more fantastic stories within this anthology and I would highly recommend this book to anyone (if you’re a parent it’s a wonderful read).

Carys Bray shows her skill as a magnificent raconteur with the beautiful anthology ‘Sweet Home’. We here at STORGY will be keeping an eye out for any future short story work she may release as we are sure it will be another wonderful collection.

It’s rare that an author is able to write so wonderfully over somany genres but Carys is able to do just this with aplomb and is why this is such a superb collection. There are a couple of stories which pull the collection down which is reflected in our rating.

We here at STORGY already know the short story genre has a very bright future in the UK and strongly believe that with Carys Bray the genre is in safe hands.

 

Sweet Home was published by Windmill Books on the 25th February 2016.

You can purchase a copy of Sweet Home from Foyles Bookshop:

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Discover more about Windmill Books here

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Review by Ross Jeffery