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Collected stories of M.M. De Voe

by M. M. De Voe

Pub Date: April 10th, 2023
ISBN: 979-8987926901
Publisher: Borda Books

De Voe’s short story collection features characters in devilish conundrums.

The short fiction collected here offers a series of themes and plot twists that are delightfully odd, unexpected, and borderline macabre. In the subtly effective opener, “Shutter,” a protective ghost perched in a tree observes the park bench interactions between a young struggling female actor and an elder with menacingly predatory intentions. “Tastemakers,” with its embedded satire of artistic communities, depicts grisly performance art set in a museum where crowdsourcing-funded artists synchronize their suicides while “the spectators all gasp.” The theme of family recurs frequently; an old witch in “The Scissors of Hope and Despair” may or may not have dementia, like her cocky granddaughter believes, but a strategic and revealing game of chess offers proof positive. One of the book’s longer tales, “Mom of the Year,” also touches on family bonds when an outspoken, award-winning mother of six has her standards challenged during a live reality TV talk show. The Brooklyn mother featured in “Left Brain” struggles with raising a young son stricken with a condition that limits his communication to numbers. Increasingly panicked, she fears that “his right brain was slowly eating his left brain like a psychopathic sibling jealously encroaching on shared space.” The sheer number of revolving narrators distinguishes “A Rose” from the rest of the collection, with De Voe exercising her creative muscles in this fairy tale gone awry. Closing out the collection is the shortest entry, the bravura “Virgin Flight 244, Chicago to Heathrow,” which, with great economy, manages to convey the horror of a wife giving birth to a demon child while seated in trans-Atlantic coach seats with her husband. As the new dad deals with the devil spawn and its hemorrhaging mother, De Voe’s disarming talents are on full display. Each story demonstrates De Voe’s gift for creating characters and scenarios that are just off the beaten path. Fans of The Twilight Zoneare certain to be mesmerized by this eerie anthology, filled with surreal wonder, sinister scenes, and a cast of eerily memorable characters.

Ominous, masterfully conceived psychological fiction.