Owl Light by Vonnie Winslow Crist (ebook review).

February 26, 2018 | By | Reply More

‘Owl Light’ is a collection of short stories and poems by Vonnie Winslow Crist that was originally published in 2014 and was re-released in 2017. I’m not sure if there are any differences between the two versions but this review is of the more recently released edition.

Loosely themed around the ideas of twilight and the borders between our world and the supernatural, it’s a fairly cohesive collection where the stories do feel like they belong together. The poems also follow similar themes, but I think I’d have enjoyed the collection more without them. That isn’t to say they’re bad, there’s some nice imagery in a few of them, but I’m very much a rhyme and rhythm kind of poetry fan. The more abstract style of these just didn’t do anything for me and I’m not planning to say anything else about the poetry in this review.

As for the stories, I think they’re a bit of a mixed bag. There were some I really enjoyed and some I found a bit lacking, with one or two feeling more like introductions rather than complete tales in their own right.

‘Gifts In The Dark’, a story about honouring the dead, probably felt the most unfinished and although I’d been enjoying it, I was surprised and a little annoyed when I turned a page and suddenly we were into the next story. It could certainly have had a few more pages to bring it to a proper conclusion and if the author really wanted to finish it at this point then I think there needed to be more tension and emotion there to make it work.

I think my favourite story in the collection was ‘Pawprints Of The Margay’, which was a nice little piece of Science Fiction, one of the few in the book in that genre rather than fantasy. It is set in a primitive village that is visited by a space traveller who wants to profit from the ancient carvings that are held sacred by the villagers. Crist has created a very believable little world here, with lots of nice details about the village’s traditions, history and society that were juxtaposed nicely with the behaviours of more technologically advanced visitors. It is quite a pleasing and fully standalone story about sacrifice and the lengths to which people will go to protect the people they care about.

‘Bells’ was another story that I enjoyed and it would have been a nice end to the collection with its themes of love and loss. It was the final story, but there was a poem after it that I think made for a much poorer ending to the book. This story was about a family gathering together at Christmas where a young woman spends time with her recently bereaved uncle while the jolliness of the rest of the family continued in the background. It showed how vulnerable and alone people can feel even when surrounded by loved ones and brought in just a hint of the supernatural to give it a little twist and a very satisfying end.

There’s a good variety of styles in ‘Owl Light’, from the steampunk setting of ‘The Clockwork Owl’ to the romantic fairy tale that is ‘Feathers’, not forgetting the added poetry. Not all of the stories feel as finished as they could be and one or two had some editing issues that were hard to ignore but, overall, it’s a nice little collection with some lovely imagery. I wouldn’t say it was ground-breaking as there are no real surprises in here but you could certainly do much worse than pick up this book to while away a few hours on a rainy day.

Vinca Russell

February 2018

(pub: Pole To Pole Publishing, 2017. 247 page ebook. Price: $ 4.12 (US), £ 2.99 (UK). ASIN: B078GB68PX

check out website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/home

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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