Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: THIS IS HOW YOU DIE edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki ! (Grand Central Publishing)

In 2010, there was quite a lot of buzz around a new anthology entitled Machine of Death which collected stories exploring a single premise; a machine that could predict, without fail, the manner in which you would die.  All it needed was a sample of your blood and a tiny slip of paper would have your ultimate fate written on it.  I myself never read it but definitely had it on the ever growing TBR pile.  Then this year, the editors unleashed upon the world a sequel, This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death.  Word of mouth was that this volume was even bigger, better and not to be missed.  So I gave in to the siren song, threw caution to the wind and picked up This Is How You Die.

The collection opens with the heartbreakingly brilliant Old Age, Surrounded by Loved Ones by 'Nathan Burgoine.  Burgoine is now on my list of go-to writers that I know will deliver a great story; I have yet to be disappointed.  Also, the story wasn't what I expected at all; Burgoine has written an emotional story about sisters that will require tissues after reading it.  If you're not teary eyed after this, then you have no heart to break.  

Other favorites:

Execution by Beheading by Chandler Kaiden is a thriller that features three children who, upon hearing a rumor about someone who is different, go to extremes to collect a rare "Cause Of Death" card from their machine...

Apitoxin is a very clever spin on the book's premise by John Takis, who places his tale right in the hands of none other than Sherlock Holmes.  Apitoxin is both a wonderful tribute to the famous detective and a well written mystery that was great fun to read.

Monsters from the Deep, editor David Malki !'s contribution to the anthology, is a weird, creepy tale complete with aliens and a delightful Lovecraftian atmosphere.

Lake Titicaca by editor Matthew Bennardo instantly reminded me of The Body and Goonies, with kids a little afraid of what they're doing but too excited not to go off and have an adventure.

Be warned: This Is How You Die is indeed a long book but the stories are so varied and encompass so many genres that you will continually be pulled along to keep reading, unwilling to put the book down. And with a collection like this, that is exactly what you want; great story after great story that keeps you glued to the page til the last sentence is read.

Then you start over again.

Happy reading!

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