Hello Humans! Back for another book review, I see? Well, today I’m reviewing another anthology from Oxford-based publisher Rebellion. I’ve read a number of Rebellion’s collections of short stories in the past, including The Not So Stories and Infinity Wars both of which I very much enjoyed. I’ve also got their upcoming anthology New Suns on my TBR and I’m very excited to get stuck into that. But enough about other books, today I’m talking about The Outcast Hours.
We live our lives in the daylight. Our stories take place under the sun: bright, clear, unafraid.
This is not a book of those stories.
These are the stories of people who live at night; under neon and starlight, and never the light of day.
These are the stories of poets and police; writers and waiters; gamers and goddesses; tourists and traders; the hidden and the forbidden; the lonely and the lovers.
These are their lives. These are their stories. And this is their time:
The Outcast Hours.
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As you can see from this summary, the overarching theme of this collection could possibly be summarised as ‘nocturnal people doing nocturnal things’. I love night time so I thought I would definitely love this collection. I was also drawn in by the promise of a short story from one of my favourite authors, the impeccable Frances Hardinge.
The difficulty with reviewing short stories is that so often it’s quite a mixed bag and in this instance that was definitely the case. There were a few stories that I found wonderful and inspiring (Frances Hardinge’s was, unsurprisingly, one of these) but there were also quite a few that just didn’t work.
This is, for the most part, a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ as a large number of these stories tend towards more horror or gore elements which aren’t really my thing. But there were some choices made that I would question. The first story in the collection is This Book Will Find You, a story written in first person from the perspective of someone trying to resurrect their dead girlfriend – an ordinary tale of everyday folk – but things get quite disturbing quite quickly. I don’t want to spoil it for people, because it’s quite an integral part of the story, but things get disturbing and uncomfortable very fast, and if it made me feel uncomfortable I can’t imagine what it would be like for readers who find such things triggering.
It isn’t that I wanted this book to be sunshine and rainbows (moonshine and rainbows?) but I did think that jumping in with that story set a tone for the book that wasn’t entirely true. Yes, there are a number of quite disturbing (and in some cases difficult) stories to read, but there are also a number that fell more into the ‘enchanting’ category – unsurprisingly those were the ones I enjoyed most. Were it me organising this collection, I might have eased the reader in with a more gentle story. As I say, that’s just my preference showing through.
I will praise the range of stories in this collection, no two feel the same, they have a range of different characters, voices and ideas involved. This isn’t the kind of collection where you get bored halfway through. I will also praise the diverse authors included in this collection – something Rebellion publishing are very good at.
If you enjoy the gorier, horror-fuelled short story then I think this would certainly be a collection you would enjoy. From an unbiased perspective I think this was very good, but from a personal perspective, this wasn’t for me!
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Is this up your (dark) alley? Let me know in the comments below!