What I gleaned about the stories: Rock concerts are loud. Autumn nights are cold. And freezing near to death isn’t a joyous rest.
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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 onto the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.
Analysis: A few paragraphs into the first story I encountered: Devon felt his lip start to bleed. Nasty grooves formed where his teeth used to be. My immediate image of where his teeth used to be was of him having missing teeth. Almost immediately, I re-parsed it as him having bitten his lip, but by then other niggles had arisen.
All the times I’ve bitten my lip, I’ve felt a tingle/stab in my lip, and then – if I’ve bitten hard – tasted blood. As mouths are wet, I’m not certain I noticed the trickle of blood at all. So Devon’s first sensation being the feeling of blood flowing threw me.
Also, grooves – even nasty ones – didn’t seem to convey the puncture of teeth having broken the skin.
Conscious that building the correct mental image had taken work, I moved on.
Analysis: The opening paragraph of the second story was:
On a cold night under the soft glow of an ominous October moon, a bloodstained tent lay abandoned. The crackling of the dying fire the only sound in the cold night air. Not even the insects in the vicinity dared make a sound as the wind blew pieces of the shredded tent around its mangled frame.
Although I immediately had a factual map of the scene and a strong sense something unpleasant or unusual had happened, all those adjectives told me how to feel; which short-circuited the formation of an actual emotional reaction.
Trust in the author’s ability to evoke the resonance that horror requires damaged, I moved on.
Analysis: The third story opens in winter, which the narrator describes as very brutal. Brutal is already extreme, so the modifier threw me. My mind skewed sideways into the consideration of whether one could have meaningful degrees of brutality; clearly some things could cause more damage than others, but calling something brutal was already enough to evoke more than dislike. “Very brutal” felt strained; reaching for a greater sense of harm without providing greater evidence.
Realising the author had buried a potentially powerful image under an adjective again, I pulled the plug.
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