“ALL HAIL the Short Story!”
These 15 short stories come from those shaded corners; the shadowy recesses of our minds where deceit and revenge take refuge. Only to surface when we choose to be most unpleasant to our neighbors, our colleagues, our lovers, and to our families—and even our species. Above all, it’s the unpredictable kinks that catch you unaware that make the ‘CROOKED TALES’ anthology such a wicked delight. ‘CROOKED TALES’ gathers the talent of 15 of the hottest authors around to thrill you with their visions of mayhem, in places exotic, bucolic, other-worldly, or simply sinister. With the resurgent interest in the Short Story, due to us having busy lives with only micro-moments of calm to read, the editorial team of READERS CIRCLE OF AVENUE PARK (#RCAP) curated this unique short story anthology. You have the itch to read, but have only a long moment to indulge, so ‘hail a short story!” and immerse yourself in brief adventures of the imagination.
As the author of the final ‘crooked tale’ in this anthology I offer the following reviews of my story for your consideration.
Red Queen Check by Elizabeth Horton-Newton
Wow, where to begin with this story? It starts off with an erotic flair as socialite Mark and his girlfriend Vayda are at a party, yet it is clear they’d rather be elsewhere. Soon, back at his place, the story takes a twist I didn’t see coming. You see, Mark is a pervert, a dangerous and scary one. What happens next is a plot that was years in the making and just as devious as you’d expect to see. The author, Ms. Horton-Newton, does such a wonderful job creating a cold and calculating word in such a short amount of time. At the end of the short story, you’re feeling as if you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride that took hours to complete. Each character, either through flashback or the main characters themselves, was expertly designed for the purpose given. Each, in just a limited space, comes to life the way great characters are supposed to. This is the final tale in the short story anthology “Crooked Tales,” and man does it end the book properly. I am so impressed with the writing style and the fluid way the words move the reader through the story, that I can only say one thing to Ms. Horton-Newton: bravo! You have won yourself a brand new fan/reader. –Jeremy Croston
Virtues of the short story told by an artful author
I’ve become extremely fond of the short story as a medium. Life is too busy, yet I enjoy a good read, so an enticing short story is a most satisfying treat. Being a fan of author, Elizabeth Horton-Newton—her two novels “The View from the Sixth Floor” and “Riddle” having provided hours of pleasure—I confidently chose her ‘Red Queen Check’ from the short story anthology, Crooked Tales. Glad I did.
The sheer glee in the author’s writing radiated from every paragraph. This doesn’t mean this is a cheerful, trivial read; in fact it is at times gritty. However, there is little doubt she wished for the reader to enjoy the delicious comeuppance she had in-store for the miserable sociopath (or, maybe psychopath) at the stories core. But, it is the recipe of the revenge fashioned that is most satisfying.
From the opening line, Horton-Newton teases the reader with sensual heat as she introduces the femme fatale. By the third paragraph we are repulsed by him, a contemptuous and possessive blowhard with deadly desires. And so, in the best tradition of a fine short story the stage is set for a diabolical plot driven by an avenging heart.
Yet, despite the obvious pleasure in her writing there is little doubt that the author had earnest intent. Elizabeth Horton-Newton’s message is clear: there is little use in society for those that abuse—no matter their power or position.
I applaud the writer’s craft exhibited by Horton-Newton; her ability to score such rich characters within such a satisfying story arc—and all this, with only 4,000 words used! No wonder I now find short stories so appealing…and hope for more from the artful Elizabeth Horton-Newton.
Each author has been challenged to describe their tale in a single line:
‘Death of Sparrowman’ – Eric J. Gates: ‘From chirrup to croak, why we should beware of benches.’
‘A Crooked Mile’ – Fiona Quinn: ‘Straying down a bleak path, lost doesn’t mean gone forever.’
‘Squatter’ – Ulla Hakanson: ‘This story is nuts – no, really, quite nuts.’
‘Nothing But the Truth’ – Joseph Mark Brewer: ‘What he saw changed everything…’
‘Angel Heart’ – Michelle Medhat: ‘A spot kill from drug-pushers to detectives— how Hz hurts.’
‘The Scream of Silence’ – Pamela Crane: ‘Sticks and stones you may atone, but lies come back to haunt you…’
‘Mark of the Hyena’ – Mark Fine: ‘When civilizations collide N!xau’s click ticks tsk tsk tricks a surprising vultured culture.’
‘Beneath’ – Anita Kovacevic: ‘The most surreal bun fight: beware of fiery coiffure justice!’
‘Ubiquitous’ – Geoff Nelder: ‘There’s no escaping the near future until you realize how to play the system.’
‘Keeping It in the Family’ – Traci Sanders: ‘Hots for a firefighter cause icy cold amnesia in a comeuppancy family affair.’
‘Set for Saturday’ – Keith Dixon: ‘In the company of thieves, it’s all about loyalty.’
‘Cold’ – Lubna Sengul: ‘The mother of all arguments, taken to the grave, and beyond.’
‘Confessions’ – Julie M. Brown: “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves – one for his enemy and one for himself.” ~ Chinese Proverb
‘Terrestrial Traitor’ – Jeremy Croston: ‘Nested deceit – aliens, humans – who’s worse?’
‘Red Queen Check’ – Elizabeth Horton-Newton: ‘Revenge for sins of the past is best dished up hot, lusty and electric.’