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This review was originally published in full at The Nervous Breakdown:
The Ones That Got Away (Prime Books) tiptoes into the darkness, luring us deep into the woods, up into crawlspaces, and to distant islands, where the people, the sacrifices, the losses are our own, our universal fears come to life. You'd think that once he surprised me, once Dr. Jones pulled that old trick where you watch the left hand while the right hand does something else that I'd be prepared for more misdirection, watching the wolf when it was always going to be the dolphin. But it's all there, it's always right there, a tingling sensation that runs up your spine, an itch where it settles, burrowing in, a heat up your neck flushing with realization. It isn't misdirection. It's an adding up of information, the sum larger than the parts. It's coming to your own conclusion before the story ends, whispering to yourself that it can't be what you think it is. Please don't let him go there. It's not a trick, or a twist, and no God as machine descends from the sky. It's what you knew all along, it's what you feared could be true, it's a stiff body standing in the corner of a musty basement, the camera on a tripod tipping over, and the evil revealing itself. And it's how the everyday people in these tales deal with these revelations when they come home to roost.
From the very first story, there is no hesitation, no easing into these tales, these dark fables. This is no mistake, the way this collection of short stories starts. What could be more innocent than a bunny rabbit in the snow? A father and son lost in the woods, surely there will be an escape, a rescue, and everything will be fine in the end. But that's all relative, isn't it? The surprises start with this story, "Father, Son, Holy Rabbit," and from the sentence, something isn't quite right:
"By the third day they were eating snow. Years later it would come to the boy again, rush up to him at a job interview: his father spitting out pieces of seed or pine needle into his hand. Whatever had been in the snow. The boy had looked at the brown flecks in his father's palm, then up to his father, who finally nodded, put them back in his mouth, turned his face away to swallow."
One of the many things that Stephen Graham Jones does well is mix the reality of nature, of life, with the elusive presence of the horrific, the fantastic, the mythic.
(To continue this review go to The Nervous Breakdown).
NOTE: Since this review was written, this book has been nominated for a Bram Stoker award for the best in horror, and has made the final ballot.
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Posted January 10, 2012
This book is filled with half good stories and half duds. Perhaps if I hadn't recently read some heavy-hitting anthologies with stories I would love to re-read then this would have come off better. however, there aren't really any stories in here that lingered let along begged to be re-read, in my opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.