Friday, 26 October 2018

Book Review: The October Country by Ray Bradbury

A collection of 19 macabre tales from who many consider to be the finest writer of fantastic fiction.

"...that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain..."

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the majority of short story collections are hit and miss. Well... this one is all killer and no filler, baby!! (Correction: perhaps a teeny tiny bit of filler as there was ONE story I just didn't vibe with - namely The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse) - but hey, as that Meatloaf song says - one out of nineteen ain't bad! Or...something like that ;)

This was a really fun collection to read during my road trip in New England - it was quite easy to fit in a story or two each evening. I did try and read some aloud to my boyfriend, but he did not remain awake until the end for ANY of them. However, I'm going to blame that on my soothing voice and not the stories themselves. 

My absolute FAVOURITE story was The Emissary. This was a sweet story about a sick young boy and his dog... that turns a little dark. I love it when stories turn dark unexpectedly. If you combine emotion with my horror, then I'm gonna be on board about 93% of the time.

There's just so many memorable tales that I won't forget in a hurry! The Small Assassin, which is about a mother who is convinced that her newborn baby is out to kill her. The Scythe, a chilling tale about a man who comes into the possession of a powerful wheat field and an even more powerful scythe. The Lake (which was my other favourite story) is about a man revisiting his childhood home and recalling a friend who drowned in a lake during their childhood.

Bradbury's writing is beautifully poetic and his stories incredibly inventive. I'm reading these stories quite a few years after they were written and they are just as impactful and unique. Bradbury is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.

Can't rave about this one enough! One of the best short story collections I've ever read - it's up there alongside King's Night Shift and Clive Barker's Books of Blood. All the stars!! Or 5... if we're using the standard rating system.


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