Tales from the Shadow Booth Vol 4 is an anthology of stories that are in many styles; from horror, to steampunk, from fantastic to modern, from yesterday, to tomorrow, from the today we know to a today that is from another dimension. This book can easily satisfy all the needs of any avid reader who wants to fall into another world, another rabbit hole, another dimension and hope to get out of it alive. It all starts with the reading of the introduction text, Enter The Shadow Booth, by Dan Coxon. I found this introduction quite promising and, like Peter in this text, I found myself entering the Shadow booth, and have yet to get out of it.
Many stories are very clear on what they offer, like The Devil of Timanfaya by Lucie McKnight Hardy, or The Tribute by James Machin, while others are a bit fuzzy in the brain and takes time to really let us see them clearly like Terminal Teatime by Anna Vaught. Other stories clearly take place in other countries outside of North America, like The Larpins by Charles Wilkinson, The Salt Marsh Lambs by Jane Roberts, Hardrada by Ashley Stokes, or The Box of Knowledge by Tim Cooke. These clearly have a voice that is best read with an Irish or Scottish tone in one’s mind. Quite interesting to read and gives the reader the feeling that they have taken a flight to these countries without remembering when they bought the tickets to go there.
Other stories seem like we go back in time, like His Hand by Polis Loizou, The Veranda by Jay Caselberg, or Drowning by Giselle Leeb. I did feel like I was transported to another time in history by these stories. And for stories that not only felt like going on the other side of the spectrum of time and space, One, Two, Three by Marian Womack did give me the feeling of being not only in another time, or another space, but being in another dimension entirely. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, having fallen in the rabbit hole that brought me in a story that had a strong link to the Steampunk genre, but with touches of historical events at the same time. It was like falling into a dream, not sure when I would get out of it. And for a modern touch, Collector of Games by Gary Budden did bring a very modern approach to his story with a clear touch of taboo that we are all familiar with, but rare are the ones to dive deep down, at least for now in this day and age while a rare few are not afraid to do it behind closed doors. Another good story that has a great modern feel of wanting to be alone amidst 7 billion souls on the planet (a feeling we all encounter in this day and age) is well portrayed in You are not in Kettering now by Andrew McDonnell.
All these stories are different and yet similar. They all seem to call the reader to dive into different facets of themselves. Some facets are easy to recognise while others are a bit harder to focus on. Still, all these stories are unique and provocative in their own way. I had a lot of fun reading this book and hope to read more of the ongoing collection. I strongly recommend this 4th book to all who like anthologies. I do not know if they are linked to the first three books as I have not read the first three. But having read this one and highly enjoyed it, I will try to get my hands on all those that have gone before.
Dark discoveries await all who dare venture past the front cover of this book.
Tales from the Shadow Booth Vol 4 is available here.
Dan Coxon is a short story writer and editor. He recently edited This Dreaming Isle for Unsung Stories (Best Independent Press – British Fantasy Awards 2018), and Being Dad (Best Anthology – Saboteur Awards 2016) for Tangent Books. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Salon, The Lonely Crowd, Neon, Gutter, Unthology, The Nervous Breakdown and Open Pen, as well as several anthologies. He also works as a freelance editor, copy-editor and proofreader at Momus Editorial.
Find more of Dan Coxon’s writing at www.dancoxon.com, or follow him on Twitter @DanCoxonAuthor.
Gary Budden, Jay Caselberg, Tim Cooke, James Everington, Lucie McKnight Hardy, Giselle Leeb, Polis Loizou, James Machin, Andrew McDonnell, Jane Roberts, Ashley Stokes, Anna Vaught, Charles Wilkinson, Marian Womack.
Reviewed by Sandra Hould
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