Were I a lazy reviewer, I’d just tell you to not read any further and go ahead and buy this book immediately. However, not only do I try not to be lazy whenever possible, but it also appears this book is sold out on the Dim Shores website, so you might need to do a little hunting (and I assure you it’d be worth the effort).
Spend a few minutes chatting with me about my favorite contemporary writers, and Daniel Braum is bound to come into the conversation at some point. I’ve written of his greatness on this blog before (see my review of his short story collection The Night Marchers…you should be able to acquire that particular book with far greater ease than Yeti. Tiger. Dragon.). There’s something about Braum’s prose that hits the sweet spot between literary fiction and something decidedly “other.” Braum does not limit himself by adhering to the laws of convenient genre buzzwords, which I believe allows him the opportunity to have a wider range of potential readership. His work tiptoes around magical realism, and were you to attempt to put his work in a box, this would be the most comfortable fit. Some stories are filled with strangeness, dread, and loss, others with innocence, mystery, and wonder. Feel free to mix these descriptors as you see fit, as Braum certainly does.
This particular collection consists of three stories spanning Braum’s career (from 2004, 2008, and 2016) that take a cryptozoological slant, and the quality of the writing is consistent despite the wide gap in years, a testament to Braum’s skill. As is the case with many of Braum’s stories, these tales are set in “exotic” locations (I use quotes because the term is relative), transporting readers to places they likely don’t travel to on a daily basis.
Though I recommend this book to anyone seeking quality fiction, other writers should especially be reading Braum, as his style can serve as a crash course for word economy. Never a wasted word, and the language is lyrical without being remotely flowery. Nothing is over-explained, yet I’m never left feeling like I need more to be fully satisfied (naturally, I WANT more, but that’s a different thing altogether, a positive thing). I’d argue he’s a master of the short story form. Rumor has it Braum has a novel coming soon, and I’m very interested to see what he does with a longer piece.