Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by Robert Mitchell Evans
**** out of ***** or worth your time. Which -according to Amazon's scale- means "I like it."
First, a disclaimer. Mr. Evans is actually a friend of mine, one of the fellow travelers in the Mysterious Galaxy writers' group. Be that as it may, I will do my best to review his work as accurately as possible.
The conceit of this collection is that these are all stories that almost got accepted as writer of the future winners (and of course, almost only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades). The book is made up of five stories, each followed by commentary and anectdotes concerning the stories from Mr. Evans which I enjoyed every bit as much as the stories.
While there are copy editing errors in the book, I couldn't find a single error in the work itself which is a testament to the polish and dedication that Mr. Evans puts into his craft.
By and large, I enjoyed the stories. They each had their moments (some more than others) and even if none of them blew me away five good longish short stories plus commentary is worth more than the price of admission.
My least favorite story was 'The House of Bad Blood': which concerned an author dealing with an angry ghost and a house related to family sins of years ago. I'm biased against writers writing about writers, but I still feel as though this story held together as a horror tale. However, I felt like the author missed an oppurtunity by making the protagonist a New York times best selling author (that type that serves as wish fufillment for us scriviners that roil about in the dirt) instead of a struggling writer. This would have gone a long way (in my opinion) justifying the fact that the author stayed in a place where he was regularly assaulted b a ghost and -in my humble opinion- would have made the eventual resolution creepier.
My favorite story in the collection was 'The Station on the Edge.' I loved how the story opened with the flavor of a gonzo science fiction heist, but stuck with it as it veered into more traditional horror tropes. Still, the imagery was great in this one and has very much stayed with me, which for me at least is always the mark of a good horror story.
I would highly reccomend Horseshoes and Handgrenades. While the stories aren't perfect, that isn't the point. This is a little anthology about an author, and a set of works in progress and more than anything left me feeling excited about what Mr. Evans will do next.