Only put in about three hours since we last talked. I blame this on you. Because that's easier.
I read a book called Pond Life by Sam Kates; it's a collection of short horror stories--maybe horror isn't always the right word for each story, but creepy sure as hell describes them. I was thinking about how to review this book since I can't compare it to other novels, because it isn't actually a novel, per se. Given that I've published 4-5 short stories, and have a read a good number of them, including collections like this--I think I have some authority on it though.
The worst part about this book is the name. It doesn't nearly describe what you're going to experience when you begin reading, and I think that's to the detriment of Mr. Kates wallet--because the book is good. The best short horror story collection I've ever read is The Collection, by Bentley Little. Sam Kates barely misses this honor with these ten stories.
I don't want to spend my time describing each of the stories, because you can simply go here and read about them. What I want to do is describe the world that Kates creates in Pond Life.
He never tells you completely what is going on in each story, but sends you down a path of macabre and wonder that makes it hard to step away from the book at any given time. It's infuriating and yet wonderful how each story leaves you guessing at what happens to the characters in the long run. For the most part, Kates gives you a glimpse of the horror they're about to face, but then pulls you away--only to drop you into another story in which you witness a man murder his wife or the worst prison ever created.
One other thing I wanted to comment on is Sam Kates writing style. It's superb. He has a meticulous way with words that accurately paints a picture, but leaves enough room for the imagination to fill in blanks--which I always believe can create more powerful scenes than any writer can on paper.
If you're into short stories, this book is a definite buy. Kudos to Mr. Kates for creating these creepy stories.