Coincidentally, the second book on my review list is another book of ten short stories: Forgotten Lives by Tristan Shaw. This one is a bit longer than the first, coming in at 92 pages. As usual, I’ll start with the technicalities. Forgotten Lives is not quite an error-free book, as is rather expected in the indie author era. A mild error or two is not at all deal-breaker for me, as long as there is worthwhile substance. And worthwhile substance this book has.
It is no secret that I am a lover of all things dark and morbid, and the stories within Forgotten Lives certainly fits the bill. I absolutely adored the first eight stories. Of particular interest to me were the tales of an envious sideshow dwarf, hindsight recollections of a mother’s madness, a gluttonous winemaker driven to cannibalism, and a fraudulent spiritual medium. I recently started writing my first novel, which just happens to center around a fraudulent psychic, so I would probably have to name “The Spirit Photographer” my personal favorite of this collection.
I felt that the final two stories in Forgotten Lives, while undoubtedly well-written, were a bit more historical, dry, and slow paced than the rest. The book as a whole is incredibly clever, intelligent, effective, and gloriously dramatic. Take, for example, this excerpt of the above mentioned winemaker describing the ordeal of losing his sense of taste:
“Shall I compare it the grief of a couple who’s lost their only child? No. Too insignificant. The bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Mere papercuts in contrast to the existential shock I experienced.”
4/5 would recommend to all fellow fans of the cynical and the macabre.