Hey everyone, Dave here. 🙂 Hope you’ve all been well! Apologies for my absences – I’ve been writing a lot and editing a lot lately and have achieved a balance or sorts which will lead to more regular reviews from me. 🙂
Let’s get into ‘Thou Shalt Not’!
The Ten Commandments were laid down in the earliest days of mankind, a guiding set of principles for our everyday lives. For centuries these tenets have shaped our morality, our laws, our societies. But what happens when these commandments are tested – and even broken? Step inside ten tales exploring the dark consequences of breaking these most ancient and sacred of rules…
That’s the premise for this anthology and, being raised as a Roman Catholic, I was really curious as to how the premise would be explored. Put it this way – I was shocked, stunned and left speechless, and I mean that all positively.
The anthology opens with Jeff Gardiner‘s Dionysus, a tale exploring the commandment, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me.” It’s also a tale about awakening and emerging from from the kinds of chrysalis’ which we find ourselves smothered in while trying to navigate Life. It is hard-hitting and heart-felt, the kind of tale that will probably echo in the reader’s mind when witnessing situations similar to what the two main characters find themselves in.
The next tale, Amanda Bigler‘s The Last Dinner, explores the commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Worship Any False Idols” and focuses on a photographer’s confession of love and admiration, exploring not only his quirks and tendencies but also throwing a light on a shady, dangerous business. It hit hard and had me swearing when I finished it – the build up in this tale is perfectly managed and the end is darkly, brutally brilliant.
All the Best Tunes by Clare Littleford takes the commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord’s name in Vain” as its inspiration, and focuses on a couple, their desperate love for one another, and how their relationship impacts the community in which they live which, at times, has the flavour of a dystopia. It’s a subtle tale with an intense gut-punch of an ending.
Stuart Young‘s Confessions explores the commandment, “Thou Shalt Keep the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy“, and is one of my favourite tales in the book. It’s an absolutely blistering and eye-opening look at the concept of sin – outstanding tale!
The Looking Glass Girl by Laura Mauro, exploring the commandment, “Honour Thy Mother and Father“, is one of the more tragic tales in the anthology and follows the main character as she begins to uncover the truth behind her sister’s disappearance. The thing is, her sister, Stefania, appears in a mirror … or does it? Are we experiencing something supernatural or are long-suppressed memories rising to the fore? Great tale.
Danuta Reah‘s The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing (with “Thou Shalt Not Kill” as its theme, of course) is a fun, vicious tale in which a budding murderer is given a brilliant lesson in how not to go about being a serial killer. I enjoyed a nasty little cackle at the end of this tale.
Fuxnet by Pat Kelleher, exploring “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery“, is uncompromising and truly scary – the author takes online pornography and creates a nightmare which consumes the main character. It’s a disquieting, unflinching tale and may upset some readers, but is well worth the read.
Mark West‘s The Goblin Glass explores “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and has the main character sent to steal a particular, special mirror (The Goblin Glass) by a man he wishes to impress. He finds the mirror, of course… 😉 A great, tense tale in which you as the reader know that the character is heading into dangerous territory, but you really don’t want to warn him (even if you could) because you need to know more about the mirror.
After Jasper Kent‘s The Tangled Web, you will never break the “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbour” commandment ever again, and you might even look at Twitter from an entirely new perspective, too…
And finally, rounding out the anthology with a tale of salesmanship, business deals and Hell, Jacey Bedford explores “Thou Shalt Not Covet Anything of Your Neighbour’s” in Pitch, an entertaining, surprising mix of themes and outcomes.
This is a seriously good anthology, exploring different themes with physical, emotional and psychological Horror-elements and should keep you reading late into the night; in fact, you’ll probably be late for work the next day. Not checking Twitter at all. Wondering about Sin. And so much else. 😉
I’ve got no idea how many tales Alex had to choose from, but all of these tales are damned good and memorable. The editing was sharp and completely invisible and I’m definitely looking forward to reading further projects edited by Alex, and written by these authors.
9 / 10
Until next time,