That feeling you get from exploring a good story. A bookish podcast discussing and reviewing books and films as I journey through my ever growing TBR backlog and watchlist.

Find Us And Other Stories by Elford Alley

From the opening story of a post apocalyptic horror to the closing tale of grim revenge with that sweet southern gothic flavor, this book promises “spine chilling terror”. Can it deliver on that promise?

Find Us And Other Stories
Title: Find Us And Other Stories
Page Count: 130
Published: 12/01/2020
Categories: ,
From the opening story of a post apocalyptic horror to the closing tale of grim revenge with that sweet southern gothic flavor, this book promises "spine chilling terror". Can it deliver on that promise?

I finally got around to diving into this book after having read all of Alley’s other collections previously. Yes, I did things perfectly backwards, as this is his debut collection. As with all of the previous collections, I enjoyed this collection quite a bit, though I will admit that after reading his most recent works and then going back to his first collection here, he’s grown a lot as a writer and the more recent stories are much more polished and impactful.

That’s not to say this is a bad collection at all, in fact, within it’s 11 stories there were none that felt like “bad” stories at all. However, for me, I found fewer that REALLY sung for me and more that were in the “that was a good solid story” category. The best way I can explain it is that some of these stories have excellent premises and I wish I could see an updated version of them with the writing voice and confidence that he has found in his latest works.

Again, not bad at all, but when compared to the terrific storytelling in his latest collection We Will Find A Place For You, it becomes evident just how much Alley has grown into his voice as a horror and dark fiction writer. The bones are all there, but now he’s added some real muscle.

While I greatly enjoy all that I’ve read of his work, my absolute favorite stories of his(in this collection and all the others) are the ones where he taps into the dark-southern-gothic-western vibe. There’s just something he does so well with those stories that gets me every single time.

Such as in the final story in this collection called The Grinning Man. It’s an excellent finish to this collection and tells the tale of a man left to die in a desert and is “rescued” by a mysterious traveler who offers him a new lease on life. But there’s a catch, as there always is, and as the story says about revenge and retribution, it’s a “never-ending cycle. One score settled creates another.”.

This was my favorite story in this collection because of the vibe and feel, very much a mix of Ghost Rider with that classic western revenge and all of it dark, gritty and dusty with an underlying theme of the cyclical nature of life that leaves you a little something to ponder when it’s finished.

The other thing about Alley’s writing I really enjoy is how he finds just the right balance between engaging descriptions that make you feel like you are part of the story without the excessive or flowery prose that rambles on and on for days. (Looking at you Stephen King)

One of my favorite examples of this, and I think it’s my favorite line for the entire collection, happens in a story called Miracle Maker. It’s a story about a snake oils salesman of a Reverend that is preaching and pushing his silver linings views on those around him even as it’s evident they are in a truly horrific situation.

The full quote is :
“But, as the Reverend often reminded them, one must look for the silver lining, there you’ll find God’s mercy. For example, the recent rise in daytime temperatures killed off disease bearing ticks. Of course, with the ticks went nearly every other form of animal life from the time before. His mercy wasn’t free.”

But the line I absolutely fell in love with was the last line “His mercy wasn’t free.”.

So much power and impact in those 4 words and such a great example of Alley’s ability to pack a lot of power in his punchy stories without getting excessively wordy.

In all, if you are a fan of horror and dark fiction, if you enjoy short collections of short stories that are perfect to blast through and savor between your other doorstopper novels, I highly recommend any of Elford Alley’s collections. Even though this is his debut collection and I feel the collections he’s put out after have only gotten better and better, this collection is absolutely worthy of a spot on your shelf. Plus, he just announce that all new versions will soon be available as his 4 collections of short stories have been picked up by Velox Books, which you can read more about here!

Having read all of his collections, this one wasn’t the BEST of the 4, but it’s still very enjoyable.

Find Us and Other Stories by Elford Alley gets a 3.5 out of 5 stars.(Rounded up to a 4 stars on Amazon/Goodreads)


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