In this collection, author Spencer Spaulding offers half a dozen short stories, ranging from those leaning toward techno-thriller sensibility to simpler fare that recounts a spiritual life well lived.
The opening story, “Lobo and the Spirit,” relates the death of a man who had worked for a church, took in a stray dog, and had an active relationship with the Holy Spirit. While very little happens in its mere 11 pages, the story evokes a tender, contemplative mood beautifully.
“Sister” (or “Sisters”—it’s identified both ways) is a thrilling treat. Abigail Murray is treated like an indentured servant by her twin sister Ruth, but when an accident claims Ruth’s life, Abigail moves into the house that once belonged to her sister and enjoys the privileges of her identity when it suits her. Abigail runs wild with her passport…and directly into the path of karma.
Spaulding’s prose is polished, but some stories fail to offer much beyond that. “Our Song,” for example, is a touching look at a family losing its matriarch, but doesn’t lead anywhere in particular. In addition, the final story, “Monkey Island,” about a hijacked plane potentially bombing a secret cache of nuclear weapons, has a resolution so technically detailed that readers will struggle to grasp what happened.
Short fiction offers readers the chance to drop into several different lives and situations, and many of the stories offered in Some Short Stories hold much promise in that vein. But while “Sisters” is a standout tale that highlights the author’s strengths, the others lack its audacity, delivering writing that is either solely atmospheric or minutely detailed with plots that fail to fully materialize.
The result is a collection of stories that pique readers’ interest without offering full satisfaction. Overall, these tales would benefit from more carefully developed plots and themes.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.