Wednesday 4 July 2018

Book Review: Shoal - A Thanet Writers Anthology

Last Updated: 19 July 2021

Shoal A Thanet Writers Anthology cover

AD* | Thanet Writers is honoured to present a handpicked collection of some of the finest short stories by the authors of Thanet, edited by Alice Olivia Scarlett and with a foreword by David Lee Stone. Dealing with family and belonging, outsiders and outcasts, this anthology is the voice of Thanet's writing community. Some of the stories are mournful. Some are grotesque, some are funny, some are magical. Each one has something to say. Welcome to Shoal.

Although, on the whole, I prefer to read longer stories, sometimes it is beautifully crafted short stories that really manage to grab my attention and make me instantly sit up and take notice. Plus, after living in Kent for three years while at university, I am always up for supporting writers in my second home county. Perhaps it's fair to say that I sometimes do miss Kent, its landscape and the university lifestyle, but it is small connections like these that help me remember the good times and everything I've learned along the way.

So, when offered the chance to get involved, review and help promote an anthology featuring short stories from Thanet writers, there was only ever going to be one answer!

First and Last by Catherine Law

Undeniably a strong start to the anthology, powerful emotions and a wonderfully poignant twist are captured brilliantly in this war-time story.

Rating: 4 stars

The Pigeons by J.A. Dumairier

Although it was full of description and rich symbolism, I felt this story sadly lacked an engaging plot.

Rating: 2 stars

Another Hot Chocolate by Lannah Marshall

I enjoyed this story, particularly learning more about the characters' past as the conversation developed, but I did feel it felt more like a scene borrowed from a longer book rather than a stand-alone short story.

Rating: 3 stars

Loose Ends by Sam Kaye

Simple and to the point, this story follows a traditional idea of the thriller genre yet adds its own unique twist.

Rating: 4 stars

The Old Man by Ghillie

I don't know what it was about this story, perhaps just its sheer simplicity, but it really tugged at my heartstrings and made me get all emotional!

Rating: 5 stars

Stray by Seb Reilly

This story has so much scope and potential - it's one of those vivid stories where the words just leap off the page. Twisting and turning, this multi-faceted story is well worth a read.

Rating: 4 stars

Misjudged by Stephanie Upton

Although I applaud this story for highlighting important issues, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Rating: 2 stars

The Year the Flamingos Came by Maggie Harris

Out of all the stories in the anthology, this was the one I was most looking forward to reading. I mean, that title is amazing! Although I felt the rich description and vivid yet subtle imagery were absolutely spot-on, it was the plot that prevented this story from rocketing to a five-star favourite.

Rating: 3 stars

Looking for Robert by Roger Jefferies

This story felt too rushed for my liking - with such a sweeping plot, it definitely could have done with a longer word count to really do it justice. Kudos to the author for a fantastic twist at the end though!

Rating: 3 stars

The Second Floor by David Chitty

It was quirky and definitely different, but sadly just not to my tastes. 

Rating: 1 star

Paint Me by Connor Sansby

Speaking of different, I absolutely loved this story! Somehow managing to be both simple and complex at the same time, it's a definite gem in the collection.

Rating: 4 stars

The Child's Story by Charles Dickens

Who doesn't love a bit of Dickens? Classic and thought-provoking, this story is Dickens at his finest.

Rating: 5 stars

All the Postcards Never Sent by Rosie Escott

Oh, but this story is utterly heartbreaking. What else is there to say?

Rating: 3 stars

The Face by John Mount

I loved this story from the outset, but sadly, it just didn't live up to its initial promise.

Rating: 2 stars

Chisel by Rebecca Delphine

Quite possibly my favourite story in the entire anthology. It combines all my favourite elements into one remarkable story - don't miss it!

Rating: 5 stars

A Weekend Away Retold by James Souze

Although I had no problems with the story itself, it just didn't suit my personal reading preferences, sadly.

Rating: 2 stars

Cuke by Luke Edley 

Well, this one was certainly an eye-opening read! Who would have guessed some of the things that teenage boys get up to? Although humour isn't my first choice in fiction, this was still an enjoyable read.

Rating: 3 stars

The Lickspittle Leviathan by David Grimstone

This kind of vivid fantasy would usually be right up my street, but here, I felt the constraints of the short story held the idea back somewhat.

Rating: 3 stars

Black Frost by Alice Olivia Scarlett

Utterly unexpected and totally captivating - fantasy at its finest. I just would have preferred a longer story to delve further into the backstory and consequences following this story!

Rating: 3 stars

Laid Bare by Kirsty Louise Farley

A thought-provoking read, yet one I'm still not sure what to think about as I come to write this review. To give it its due, it's certainly different to anything I've ever read before.

Rating: 3 stars

Life and Times of a Zombie by Matthew Munson

Definitely one to get you thinking! A zombie apocalypse tale with a quirky twist, this story combines the classic tropes of the genre with an overriding atmosphere of melancholy.

Rating: 5 stars

Thanephant: An Elephantasy by Janet Gogerty

I loved this story! It's quirky, it's inventive - in short, it's everything a short story should be.

Rating: 4 stars

Lucy by Sarah Tait

What a way to round off the anthology! Unexpectedly thought-provoking, this story is one that will stick with you long after you read the final words - an excellent choice to be placed last in the collection.

Rating: 5 stars

Shoal contains a whole host of stories across almost every genre you can think of and told in a variety of different styles and voices. It's diverse and clever, but most of all, it's the perfect way to showcase the work of the talented writers of Thanet.

Shoal: A Thanet Writers Anthology is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review

Will you be getting a copy of the anthology? Which story is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for rating Loose Ends so highly :) It was my first published work (in print)!