Monday 16 November 2020

BOOK REVIEW - Layer: A Collection of Short Stories by Zuzanne Belec

Layers: A Collection of Short Stories
Author: Zuzanne Belec
Genre: Literary Fiction / Contemporary Short Stories
Publication Date: 12th November 2020

Book Description:
Eight short stories on the power of the human spirit.

Layers is a debut collection of imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today's fast-paced world.

With vivid descriptions, we are drawn into enchanting worlds with characters that leap off the page, leaving the reader lingering long after the pages have been read.

In The Christmas Charge: Instead of enjoying their Christmas preparing eggnog cream pie and sipping sherry by the fireside, three batty grannies go on an African safari. At this stage of wisdom in their lives, nothing can go wrong. Right?

In Paths Taken: When her grandmother ‘kills’ a man on a busy town square, Hecate is forced to face her worst fears and use her own unsettling powers to help her. But where will these new paths take her?

In White Noise: All Earl needs to do is hand his work over to his successor. But is it that easy to let go? And where does one hide from one’s inner noise?

In The Old Man and the Donkey: Deep in northern Portugal, an old man and his donkey go about their lonely routine. When an unexpected visitor shows up, everyone is given a new chance of happiness. But have they all been stubbornly avoiding it for too long?

In the Arctic Haze: Since he was little, bad luck has stuck to George’s soles like clingy dog mess. Some of us are luckier. Or are we really?

In Penny’s Purple Robot: A loving father exceeds himself to make his daughter happy after her mother passes away. But can he force himself to face a brutal truth?

In Mothers: Deep in Africa, a desperate mother accepts her own fate, but refuses to face an even harsher reality. Mothers will do anything for their young. And things may not be as they seem.

In Yeehaw: Running from their regular lives, Sam and Patsy end up in an artificial town – Yeehaw Theme Park. Will they find their true selves in this synthetic world?

If you like a minimalist and dark, yet humorous look at the contrasts we face in the world today, you will enjoy this collection of mixed-genre stories.

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Layers is a collection of short stories full of flavour and culture with a deep sentimental and nostalgic undertone. I requested this review copy from StoryOrigin because I was drawn to the cover. It looked like a painting, full of ambiguity and intrigue, and I wanted to know what was on the inside. If I'm being honest, it didn't get off to a great start with me. I wasn't connecting with the story or the characters, and I did contemplate putting it down, but due to it being a collection of short stories, I figured I would continue reading to the end, which I am glad I did, because as I read on, I found that the second half of the book was more to my taste and was resonating with me a lot better than the first half.

The stories that I found truly captivating were White Noise, The Arctic Haze and Mothers, the latter being the one that truly made me appreciate the book as a whole. The themes of loss and the will to survive was well portrayed and translated throughout the whole book. I also liked the focus on the bond and connection between the characters and their will to protect their loved ones.

Layers is overwhelmingly sad at times and very tragic, but underneath all of the pain and suffering, there is still a semblance of hope and purpose embedded deep within. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the book, because I ended up really enjoying it. Although the stories were very realistic in nature, I felt an undertone of magical realism throughout, which made it even more enjoyable.


Award: Gold
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Source: StoryOrigin

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