Kyle's Reviews > Strange Waters

Strange Waters by E.B. Dawson
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Finally contributing my own review of this awesome anthology. Is it self-aggrandizing of me to call it that when I wrote one of the stories in it? Perhaps, but given that most of it is by other people, I don’t think so.

Let’s take these one by one:

Backpack Boy

I was very much not okay after reading this story. But in a good way. Which makes no sense, but it’s very often the effect that Nate Philbrick’s writing has on me. He has a truly remarkable talent for pulling on a reader’s heartstrings without ever becoming maudlin. The pure artistry of how this little story is constructed, and how it packs its biggest emotional punch, blew me away.

Finer Things

I absolutely loved the Treasure Island atmosphere of this story. (I’m a simple guy; give me something Treasure-Island-ey and chances are I’ll probably enjoy it.) But there’s a lot more great stuff here besides the general atmosphere--the characters’ journey is gripping, and the plot has an unexpected but satisfying twist. Great fun.

Roanoke

A fascinating tale that blends space and time travel brilliantly. I was on the edge of my seat reading this one--it changes things up from the last two by introducing greater intensity and a darker edge. The name plays into the plot in a very clever way, and there are a number of intriguing twists by the time the story draws to a close. One of my new favorite works from J.E. Purrazzi.

Kamynosa’s Labyrinth

This may seem like an odd take to those who have read this entry, but I would describe it as “what Moana should have been.” To explain that in more detail would lead to spoilers, but basically, there’s a brilliant double-subversion of the typical fairy-tale romance arc that hearkens back to the best elements of classic stories while still increasing the agency of the female lead in a satisfying manner. One of my favorites in this volume (though it’s hard to pick).

Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea

I'm tempted to describe this as “Indiana Jones meets Star Wars,” but that's not quite accurate and a little too simplistic. In any case, I love anything that has to do with archaeologists in space, so this story was right up my alley from the start. The characters are all a joy to spend time with. Barnaby Brown in particular is a very intriguing and likable lead who draws the reader right into the story. I felt immersed in the highly original story-world the whole time I was reading. This one is escapism in the best sense of the word.

Through the Lens by K.L.+Pierce

A great vignette from the world of K.L.+Pierce’s book “Two Lives, Three Choices” that gives further insight into that novel’s characters (plus lots of great banter and sci-fi action). The tone of this story is fairly light overall, but there are plenty of more suspenseful moments that will keep you turning pages. I really liked the way this fleshed out both the people and the mythology of Pierce’s clever allegorical sci-fi universe.

Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula by Kyle Robert Shultz

I could get all jokey here and say that this is the best story in the entire anthology if I do say so myself...but instead, I’ll just say that I had a fantastic time writing it, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

The Underground

This one is quite dark, but the tone works well and doesn’t feel excessive, in my opinion. I was hooked by the truly terrifying monsters the characters have to face, and their brave struggle against very punishing odds. The world-building was amazing as well. I would happily read a continuation of “The Underground.”

This Pain Inside

A beautiful, heartfelt story that manages to impart a powerful message without feeling preachy. Plus, the undersea world and the blending of magic and sci-fi are captivating elements. I felt deeply invested in the main character’s journey and felt like punching the air at the triumphant conclusion (that’s not a spoiler, given that the ending doesn’t play out quite how you’d expect). An excellent coda to the anthology.

What are you waiting for? You have a lot of stories to read...
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Reading Progress

2019 – Started Reading
2019 – Finished Reading
October 19, 2019 – Shelved
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: anthologies
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: short-story-anthologies
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: short-stories
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-the-best
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: characters-i-love
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: christian-science-fiction
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: christian-fantasy
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: dark-sci-fi
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: dark-fantasy
November 8, 2019 – Shelved as: humorous-scifi

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