What I gleaned about the stories: Darkness looms gloomily across melancholy figures as they brood morbidly.
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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.
Note 2: The stories are set within a framing story. To avoid any lessened immersion from missing segments, I chose to skip the continuing narrative between stories.
Analysis: The first paragraph of the framing story ends with:
Blackwater Heights loomed over the horizon like a ravenous beast; tower turrets spiked the dark night sky, illuminated by a vibrant moon. All we need is the stormy lightning and we’re all set, he thought to himself morbidly.
The description of the building seemed overwrought, but was enough of a gothic horror trope that I gave the benefit of the doubt and read on. And immediately chuckled at the ironic internal dialogue: the purple prose was deliberate. However, having flicked from thinking the gothic style was straight to thinking it was dark humour, morbidly tripped me; was the narrator’s style overwrought or not?
Having lost my faith in the narrator’s voice, I moved on.
Analysis: The protagonist’s car swerves. He reacts. He does another thing. By the third sentence stating that He did something, broken only by a sentence stating that His heart raced, I had both an echo and the sense I was reading a police report rather than a story.
Either might have pushed me out, together they were more than sufficient cause to move on.
Analysis: A few paragraphs into the second story I encountered: A woman some ten feet away was staring at him nervously as he had spun around with an angry expression to find that he was facing no-one. The first bump came from the tense confusion: he had turned in the past, so the woman’s action of staring as he did it should be complete too. Trying to cast the actions in the correct tenses, I realised I wasn’t sure when the woman stared; had she been staring at him when he turned, or had his turning caused her to stare?
Already working to untangle the timeline, I ran into a stage-business issue: if he has turned and is facing no one, then the woman cannot be in front of him; but if she isn’t, how does he know she’s staring? Following a moment’s thought, I decided the woman was to one side, so he could see her from the corner of his eye.
However – despite some effort – my mental image still felt insecure, so I pulled the plug.
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