Today’s book review of a single short story (the twentieth in the 27-story charity crime anthology OxCrimes collection) is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
I rarely read ‘proper’ books (paperbacks / hardbacks) and I’d wanted to read this collection for a while so bought it as a paperback so I could sit and read at least one short story a day. (I’m also writing short stories for competitions and submissions too and have sent three off in the last week!).
If you’d like your short story or writing guide reviewed, or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.
The OxCrimes Collection
For 2014, Oxfam and Profile Books have turned to crime in order to raise a further £200,000 for Oxfam’s work. OxCrimes is introduced by Ian Rankin and has been curated by Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, where it will be launched in May. The stellar cast of contributors will include Mark Billingham, Alexander McCall Smith, Anthony Horowitz, Val McDermid, Peter James, Adrian McKinty, Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and a host of other compelling suspects. Profile Books have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam by publishing OxTales (2009) and OxTravels (9781846684968) (2011).
This collection is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW and http://www.amazon.com/OxCrimes-Introduced-Ian-Rankin-Ox-Tales-ebook/dp/B00IJKJTXW.
Review of Anne Zouroudi’s The Honey Trap
This is a short short story (15 standard book pages) so a short review…
Like Louise’s story, it is clear early on that we are not in England and from the mention of ‘kafenion’ and Anne’s biography facing the story’s opening (saying that she is Greek), it is evident that that is where we are.
This story opens with a young beautiful blonde woman and there is a hint of sadness from the narrator as we are told that the girl ‘is the age Flora would be now’.
We then switched to donkey-owning Nikolas and the narrator’s reminiscences of Nikolas’ mother who literally worried herself to death. (I have one of those)
It’s not long before the connection to the title is revealed. I’ve not been to Greece but have to the Greek side of Cyprus where the three main languages spoken, especially by tourists, are Greek, German, and English.
I don’t know why I was surprised to learn that Nicolas is old, perhaps as he was introduced after the young woman (who was old enough for the waiter to flirt with), although we were told his pace was slow but I thought that was because of the donkey.
At one point, Nikolas says how welcoming the Greeks are and it is true, especially early in the tourist season, and the story developed with the topic of Flora resurfacing (the topic, not her).
And now for writers…
- I have moaned before about the lack of section breaks for passing of time but at least here we have a blank line / new section for the change in main character point of view.
- I’ve also said about ‘started to’ and ‘began to’, where they are not needed when the action is not interrupted, and here we have a donkey ‘beginning to drink’ when he does actually drink everything he’s given (and wants more).
- In previous reviews, I’ve also said about being clear who you are referring to when you have characters of the same gender together. Here we have ‘the boy was no longer there. “Only so high.” He held his hand waist-high…” I know from the context that it refers to the Danish man that Nikolas is speaking to but it could easily be referring to the boy. Then later we have a reference to bees, followed by ‘a silence fell between them’, meaning the men rather than the bees.
- When you have a character doing and saying something with no input, delay or interruption from anyone or anything else, the narration and speech should be on the same line, or at least within the same paragraph – which avoids any unnecessary he said / she said – but for some unknown reason they are often here on separate paragraphs.
A very sad but beautifully descriptive story. I could imagine the scenery as a ‘wish you were here’ postcard, and yes, I did. Out of all of them, my favourite character was the donkey as he was mostly ignored and very sweet. A rounded well-written story that comes to a satisfactory full circle.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I shall be back tomorrow with my review of Ann Cleeves’ The Spinster, the twenty-first story in this collection.
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition, RONE 2015 Judge.
As well as a teacher of creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online, Morgen will be one of five tutors at the 2017 Crime & Publishment alongside crime authors Lin Anderson and Martina Cole!
Morgen’s first love is writing and she is a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.
If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each
but only until 3rd April! ***
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.