Walk down a cracked and mossy path to twenty-four unique and imaginative tales of death and beyond. Inside these pages you will discover death in its many forms, from natural causes and accidents, to the not so accidental. Families bid emotional farewells, killers plan their crimes, and creatures from the other side seek their prey.
Through her eclectic collection of works, Elizabeth shares the truths of her life as an anxiety struggler & mental health advocate, cancer & traumatic childbirth survivor, mom via IVF/FET & gestational surrogacy, bisexual in a monogamous marriage, family historian, budget traveler, and simple, ordinary life enthusiast. She lives in Illinois with her husband, son, and twin daughters.
At Death's Door is a new anthology, recently published on 17th February. All 24 stories have very different takes on the subject of death. Some are supernatural, some have dark humour, while others are heartbreaking. All were engaging, well-written and with thrilling, unpredictable twists. Many of the stories left me reeling from the unpredictable endings, and I had to take time to process what just happened!
I also really liked the little drawings at the start of each story, I think they are a great little extra touch.
Here are some of my favourites:
- Jay the Bird by Elizabeth Royer. This is the first story and sets a high bar for the rest of the book! It is the heartbreaking story of Jay, a 16-year-old boy with terminal cancer. It has lots of flashbacks to eight months before, when he was fell, and it's obvious that his diagnosis was very sudden. This was absolutely heartbreaking and written so beautifully. It's incredible how much an author can pull you in to a character's life with just a few pages. - The Ninth Step by William Thatch. This story follows Sam Kinloch, who has just left prison after a one year sentence, and is one year sober. He tries to start his new life by apologising to people that he's wronged. But how do you receive forgiveness from the dead? This story was really good, exploring the concepts of honesty, forgiveness — and forgiving yourself. - Static by Donise Sheppard — this follows Elaine, who has been living alone since her husband Max died. Max was killed in a violent robbery, and since then she has been practising at a gun range to try and feel less afraid. Elaine then starts receiving strange phone calls from a mystery phone number. This was a gripping story and incredibly tense. I was on edge while reading it the whole time! I loved the twist at the end — it was certainly one of the stories that caught me completely off-guard. - Mollie by Jo Sutera. Mollie is homeless and 42 years old, an alcoholic and living on the streets pushing her shopping trolley full of belongings. This was a heartbreaking story, a great reminder to be kinder to the homeless and that you don't know what personal demons others are struggling with. - The Transitionist by Cassandra Angler. Evelyn is a Transitionist, who takes souls from their bodies and guides them to the afterlife. She receives a call from Mrs Morris, whose husband is dying, and asks her to come and help urgently. This story ends really abruptly and I was left feeling a little dissatisfied, wanting to learn more. I love the concept and was really intrigued about Transitioners. I'd love to read further stories about them and their experiences. - For Milly by Alan l'Anson. Sara and Danny are driving into town on a Saturday night with their friends Ricky and Tina following them in the car behind, leaving their young baby Milly at home. Sara and Danny are hit by an oncoming car. This is so well written, everything is really vivid — the confusion, the panic, and the agony. There is another shocking twist at the end of this one, that I didn't see coming at all! - A Game of Chance by Sarah Kaminski. This story follows Jeremy, who is currently having chemo, who met Sarah three months ago. They become friends, playing backgammon together on the ward. This is a really heartwarming story about friendship, and shows their friendship growing over time as they play together. Again, the ending was incredibly shocking — everything happens so fast. The writing in the ending is very fast-paced and you can feel Jeremy's shock and disbelief coming off the pages. - Touching Memory by Edward Ahern. The ultimate momento: a book made from vellum and leather of the deceased to create your very own memory book that will last for years to come. I loved the concept and the dark humour in this story! It was definitely needed after the couple of darker, heartbreaking stories that it followed, to lighten the mood. - Sintruder. Jeremy's wife, Claire, wakes him in the middle of night about an intruder. The ending of this one was completely unexpected, and it will haunt me for a long time!
I enjoyed each story and was gripped by each one. A book about death is naturally going to have some heartbreaking, haunting stories — but there is a lot more to the subject, as this anthology shows!