Last week Library Journal floored me with a starred review of Unseaming, included in a round up of authors way, way better known than I am (David Baldacci? Alexander McCall Smith? Well then!) — and here’s what the review itself said:
The stories in this debut collection range from the sly to the splatteringly horrific, with every nuance of dread and menace in between. It opens with Allen’s Nebula-nominated “The Button Bin,” which throbs with a guilty conscience highlighted by the use of second-person narration. From there, Allen sears readers with the visceral image of everyone on Earth waking each morning bathed in blood in “The Blessed Days.” Another gem is “The Hiker’s Tale,” a ghost story that does a wonderful job at misdirection. Grief turns to horror in the marvelous “Condolences,” in which a murderer offers empty regret to the daughter of his victims, triggering continuing horror in the young woman whenever she hears words of condolence. By the time “The Quiltmaker” rolls around and we get a bigger, even better story featuring the narrator of “The Button Bin,” Allen leaves readers with nerves jangling.
Verdict: These 14 stories show that Allen (The Black Fire Concerto) is an author to watch, as capable of wringing sadness from a tale as he is of causing chills. From his background in poetry, the author surely learned his deft construction skills, placing words and evoking emotions with impressive economy but maximum effect. —Megan M. McArdle, San Diego
Given the Publishers Weekly starred reviews for Unseaming and Mythic Delirium, I feel like I’m on a hot streak in a poker game. Given the many times in my career when I’ve felt the opposite, that’s not a bad thing!
Originally published at DESCENT INTO LIGHT: Mike Allen’s Home Page. You can comment here or there.