I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.
“I had a kinky sex dream about Alex Trebek. It wasn’t all bad, but then again, I can remember only snippets of it. Running my fingers through his gray hair. I answered him, “What is the meaning of life?” And he declared me the winner,” (Jensen 13 “Final Jeopardy”).
Usually when I review short story collections I like to rate every story and give a mini-review for each of them. But since many of the stories in K.B. Jensen’s collection are flash fiction pieces, I didn’t want to spoil what some of the shorter stories are about. That’s the beauty of flash fiction, they’re brief but memorable!
Love and Other Monsters in the Dark certainly has it’s memorable tales with stories that cover a variety of genres. We have a few contemporary stories, some horror, science fiction, even a zombie story but what connects them all is monsters. Serial killers, ghosts, abusive boyfriends, neglectful husbands, Jensen shows the many different types of monsters that exist in fiction and in our own lives.
I found I enjoyed a lot of the contemporary stories more than I thought I would, though the expected monsters stories were fun too. Some of my favourites in the collection were “Pushing Buttons,” “Final Jeopardy,” “The Hoarder,” “Headache,” “The Wall,” “Otis Boy,” “A Rescue,” “Remembering the Future,” and “Catfishing in the Time of Covid.” I think this might be the first book I’ve read to acknowledge Covid and it’s a truly bizarre experience to read about it while living it. Makes me think of the future and history, and how romanticized all this will be one day. Anyways, Jensen’s Covid stories are also enjoyable and were very cleverly done, it was interesting to read about the pandemic with peoples lives in isolation instead of turning it into a more “horror” genre I suspect might happen in the future.
There is a lot of creativity in this collection but many of them seem to depend on a dark twist or reveal that makes the stories similar and predictable. The dialogue also felt awkward at times, no contractions when there should have been some, and just an overall clunky feel to some of them. Here are two examples that popped out at me, “Congratulations. I’m so glad you are alive. I’m sure the kids are so happy./“What’s it like? Can I write about it? I’d love to tell your story. I’m so glad you are alive, man.” (18 Dark Angel) and “We are eating dinner right now. Love you. Talk to you later” (Jensen 65 Last Dinner). It just felt out of place and odd. The prose was great at times, it was just the dialogue that felt off.
Overall, Love and Other Monsters in the Dark is a fun collection of short stories. Twisted and dark, and covering a multitude of genres, reader’s are sure to find stories they love in this collection!
Publication: June 20 2022
Publisher: Crimson Cloud Media LLC
Pages: 186 pages (PDF)
Source: TNBBC (Thanks Lori!)
Genre: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Stories, Horror, Post-apocalyptic, Contemporary
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤.5
Strange Stories That Linger in the Shadows
Readers will encounter serial killers, alien creatures, and dark angels, as well as more “normal” narratives about the horrors of everyday love. Love and Other Monsters in the Dark features a genre-hopping blend of contemporary fiction, noir humor, speculative fiction, and horror, with an undercurrent of love and the relationships that bind us together in the darkness. Among others, the cast of characters includes a catfish and her victim, creepy dolls in prayer, an arsonist housewife, an elderly bank robber, and a “teacup” pig. Some just can’t take it anymore.
From an award-winning story of a woman who turns into her grandmother overnight, to a narrative about facing relationship complications during a zombie apocalypse, this collection offers laughter and tears, playfully packaged in and out of flash fiction.