Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Crystal Connor's Twisted Mind

...And They All Lived Happily Ever After!: A Smorgashboard of Atrocities
by Crystal Connor
260 pages

Crystal Connor is anything but a traditional horror writer; her anthology "...And They Lived Happily Ever After" showcases her amazing ability to change up her writing style and themes, boosting the originality of her every creation. Usually, a reader would have to find a compilation of several different authors to find the kind of variety featured in her collection of stories.

After the most seductive intro I have ever read, the anthology begins with the novella, The Lazarus Antidote. If you are a zombiephile, but you feel you've read every type of apocalypse scenario, then you need to read this story. I've never read anything like it - I'm not even sure how to classify the prose of this particular tale. The first dozen pages or so made me feel like I was reading articles on a science news website. The descriptions of medical breakthroughs set the perfect tone for the nightmare that follows. Eventually, the story that emerges will have you rethinking everything you've ever imagined about a zombie viral outbreak.

The Parish is a short story about the demise of a small town after a geomagnetic storm brings about an apocalypse. Two communities merge in an attempt at joint survival, and God makes it known that He is not pleased with the results.

Best Friends Forever is one of my favorites. This story is told through various letters between a woman stalking another woman, the victim, and diary entries. This is a great example of how Connor deviates from typical story structure, making the situation between the women incredibly intense.

Amber's New Friend is simply one of the best ghost stories that has ever been written.

The Ruins has a fantastic original take on reincarnation.

I was so enthralled with The Monster that when someone tried to get my attention while I was reading, I jumped about a foot in the air. I am now afraid to go anywhere near the tree line in my backyard.

The Christmas Wish is the best story that I've ever read in my entire life; it should win an award. Connor should sincerely consider optioning this one into a movie.

The Queen's Pawn didn't quite fit in with the theme of the anthology in my opinion, but it was a nice piece of flash fiction nonetheless.

Generations Apart featured a moment of revenge among family members - nice touch with the text messages.

They Always Come Back is a great sci-fi story; I would love to see this turned into a full-length novel.

The Apple is an unusual dramatic story about a little girl and a homeless woman that is absolutely heart-breaking.

Bryannah And The Magic Negro had some great dialogue in the beginning that hooked me into the fates of the family; this story, about a statue that could grant wishes, is one of my favorites in the collection.

Spores is a brief tale about a germaphobe.

In addition to the novella and the short stories (which include a couple that I didn't mention for fear of revealing too much), there are flash fiction pieces at intervals throughout the anthology all titled Thicker Than Water. None of the stories are related to one another, rather they appear to be the literary equivalent of Tales From The Crypt or Twilight Zone. My favorite "episode" was the one with competitive neighbors. Every story is a great addition - it's like having a mini-collection within the larger compilation. Thicker Than Water could actually function as a separate anthology, albeit smaller, but Connor wisely give her readers plenty of horror for their dollar.

As always,

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