Cringe-Expect The Holy: A Suspense Thriller Short Story Collection, by Damian Fredericks (2:05)

IOD-CringeExpectHolyToday we see that short-story collections can be more susceptible to character name confusion than novels.

Note from Jefferson: As a J-named person myself, I can attest to the truth of this finding.

What I gleaned about the stories: People whose names begin with J are more likely to encounter evil.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Note: I have used the title of the collection as first displayed on my e-reader. The cover and front matter cast it slightly differently.

WTF #1: Verb tense confusion

Analysis: The first story opens with the protagonist considering how unfair it is that his friend is ill. Partway through, I stumbled over He’d lead a good life. The correct spelling of the past perfect is ‘led’ not ‘lead’ so part of me tripped on the error. However, because the contraction could also represent He would, part of my mind parsed it as He would lead a good life [in the future], so the confusion built.

Whether it was a spelling error or an unexpected time jump, it threw me out of the story so I moved on.

WTF #2: Name confusion

Analysis: The protagonist of the first story is called Father James Rogers, abbreviated to Father James. The protagonist of the second story is Father John Akers. Because Father James and Father John are so similar, I wasn’t sure whether it was the same character, so had to flick back to check it wasn’t.

Anything that makes me return to previous pages has broken immersion, so I moved on.

Kudo #1: Light humour

Analysis: The opening to the third story had a few little wry touches, which I enjoyed for themselves.

Also, while some horror franchises take the more-threat-more-gore approach to creating fear, a little horror contrasted with another emotion often seems both more immediate and more terrifying. So, I appreciated the presence of humour on a more technical level too.

WTF #3: Echoing headwords.

Analysis: The protagonist carries out a series of actions, described in short, third-person paragraphs. By the third paragraph where over half the sentences began with He verbed… I had noticed a pattern, so instinctively looked for the rhetorical trope it created.

When I realised it wasn’t done for effect, I pulled the plug.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

The SHIVA Syndrome, by Alan Joshua (3:36)
Foul is Fair, by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins (4:54)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction.

He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.