The second volume in the Read on the Run series by Smoking Pen Press, A Bit of a Twist is a collection of twelve short stories by various authors. Each of the stories presents its own unique spin on what might be considered a twist, with the first story getting extra credit for being a mini anthology inside an anthology.
David’s Not Here – was actually written in five mini sections by five different people (The Asylum). Considering the difficulty of pulling a story like that off, it actually comes out as a fairly smooth effort. The minor attempt at humor in the middle section, though not a story-killer, did distract slightly from what is otherwise an excellently twisted tale of revenge. While I do, in fact, know who wrote that section, I won’t embarrass that author by naming him here. 3 stars. (Because of the middle 😉 )
Eternal Youth – shows what might happen when one’s goals are repeatedly put off due to the various stresses of living from day to day. While the story seems to drag at first, once the twist at the end is revealed, it turns out the story was exactly as detailed as it needed to be. One of my favorites. 4.5 stars.
The Reunion – turns out to be a tale of revenge, but not in the way such stories usually go. The twist at the end of this one is sure to give several readers pause as they wonder what they might do if confronted with a similar revelation. 4 stars.
An Air of Authority – is one of two tales in this volume with a fantasy setting. It also happens to be mine, so I won’t review or rate it. I will say that the setting itself distracts from the flow of the rest of the stories since all but one of the others have contemporary, modern settings. (I will also hope that others aren’t as put off by this as it turns out I am.)
Down Home – takes a couple of different turns before it reaches its incredibly surprising and very sad conclusion. I really can’t think of much else to say here without spoiling the story. 3.5 stars.
The Marriage Counselor – has a seemingly effective way of solving relationship issues. In the end, the reader is left wondering how many others used a ruse to achieve their surprise final resolutions. 4 stars.
Blind Date – is actually a feel-good tale that ends up turning from the ending one generally expects for what initially appears to be a self-centered and shallow main character. Some may see the ending coming right from the start (and some may not) but that does not detract at all from this wonderful story. 4.5 stars.
The Chateau de Puyguilhem – is the other tale with a fantasy setting (although it does exist in the ‘real’ world). Aside from my already mentioned complaint about how the setting disrupts the flow of this volume, I’m sad to say that I had a hard time following this one, but that’s on me, I think. (Apologies to Andrew 😦 ) I think maybe it was a twist on the old ‘Beauty and the Beast’ theme, but I’m not 100% sure I got that right. 3 stars (mostly because it went way over my head).
River Road – takes readers in a surprising direction in the realm of the paranormal, though the revenge factor is pretty standard. No, the surprising twist in this tale is the way the MC relates to and interacts with his sister, Callie. Overall a nice entry for this volume. 3.5 stars.
Aliens Among Us – takes the reader on a wildly paranoid ride through the mind of a high school junior just on the verge of maturing. While one might assume that the twist is Frank’s sudden and inexplicable assumption that his step-father is an alien, that isn’t where the real twist lies, but I’ll let future readers find that out for themselves. 4 stars.
Happily Ever After – is another feel good story, though anyone reading this is going to see a supernatural/paranormal horror story, at least at first. In fact, it actually is a horror story (a-la ‘The Amityville Horror’) right up until the excellently surprising ending that I’m not going to even hint at, much less reveal. You’ll just have to read it for yourselves. 5 stars.
The Wish – is a convoluted tale of the round-about travels of a possibly magic lamp. I rather like the concept in this one, but I don’t want to give away the twist in this particular tale. I will say that if you find an abandoned lamp on a lonely park bench, leave it alone—and definitely don’t make a wish on it. 4 stars.
While this volume is significantly longer than SPP’s first ROTR release, ‘A Step Outside of Normal’, it can still be read in one sitting and offers enough variety of style to keep readers interested until the last page, and I’m not saying this just because one of the stories is mine.
“As long as Snappy is happy, that’s what counts.”
Available at Amazon Books
4 stars overall.