Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology, by Larissa Hinton (2:37)

IOD score cardToday we see that the road to pronouns must be paved with concrete.

What I gleaned about the stories: When a face gets slapped, it’s a grim sight whether it’s self-inflicted or not.

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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.

WTF #1: Demanding formality

Analysis: The introduction started with the pretense that readers would all be wondering why the collection included poetry, raising the possibility of a light, self-deprecating tone. However, a few paragraphs in the author told me that I will notice a common theme. While this is grammatically correct, the lack of a contraction – especially when set within a deliberately informal ramble – made this seem a command rather than a mere statement of fact.

Shaking off the feeling that I was being told what to think, I moved on.

WTF #2: Imperfect echo

Analysis: The first story opens with a homeless man swimming for safety. The second sentence told me that this wasn’t a stereotypical homeless bum either. The start of the clause set up this was a comparison, so when I hit homeless, my mind assumed the next word would be man; when it wasn’t, the mismatch jolted me. This was enough to raise a question whether homeless was even necessary in context: I already knew he was homeless, so there wasn’t a risk I’d mistake bum for one of the other meanings without it.

After untangling myself from a decidedly editorial internal debate, I moved on.

Kudo #1: Pleasing poetry

Analysis: The first two pieces of poetry displayed an engaging freedom and playful vocabulary that suggested the rest of the poems would provide a similar moment of enjoyment.

WTF #3: Pronoun confusion

Analysis: After an expression of horror that contained no names or details, the second story continues: Lucia’s face sharpened, her angelic face turned monstrously adult, and she slapped her across her right cheek. As pronouns usually refer back to the last suitable noun, my mind instinctively parsed all of them as referring to Lucia; which worked until the last clause. Immediately – before I’d even properly formed an image of Lucia slapping herself – I sought to correct; however, with no other potential subjects (let alone viable ones) mentioned so far, that left me with a gaping void in my mental image.

With any tension from the inchoate first sentence lost to my confusion over the second, 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 Great Turning, by Lesli Richardson (5:15)
Rise of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter (3:26)

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.