13 Drops of Blood
by James Roy Daley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
13 Drops of Blood / 2940011997488
"13 Drops of Blood" is a collection of short horror stories from indie author James Daley. I picked up the collection during an online sale and while they didn't turn out to be completely my cup of tea, I want to acknowledge talent where it is due.
The short stories contained in this collection are a combination mish-mash of straight-up horror and fantasy horror -- the reader will follow various characters through worlds with supernatural elements and worlds that are simply much like ours, but with quite terrible people in it. The horror on display is very visceral, immediate, and realistic without relying on gratuitous "gross-out" details. The author writes with a very clean, stark style and has a special kind of minimalist talent -- this is the sort of writing that looks easy to accomplish but is actually quite difficult to pull off. The stories themselves are in some cases very short indeed, but the impact of the story stays with you, and the opening tale in particular is quite haunting.
Given all this writing talent on display, I'm not certain why "13 Drops of Blood" didn't please me more as a horror fan. The horror details are wonderfully laid out and quite creepy, but often the element of suspense is missing from the tales -- any "twist" at the end is usually telegraphed well in advance, and there's not really a suspense element to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. (This may be extremely subjective; my husband insists that I've just experienced too much horror fiction at this point and that finding the tales predictable is my own fault, not the author's. That may well be the case.)
Another flaw is that some of these tales, delightful though they are, suffer from fridge logic -- it's impossible to read several of the tales without later thinking, "Wait. What??" Without spoiling too much, it seems like many of the "twists" would only really work in a short story format and a longer story would have to answer an inevitable slew of questions that would probably un-work the entire tale; it's the classic problem of a really cool setting or twist that can't realistically be set up in a full setting, I think.
If you like horror tales and don't mind too much if you can "guess the twist" before the end, "13 Drops of Blood" is a really good example of clean, visceral horror in a tasty short story format, and if you have an eReader, you really cannot beat the price here. This collection is well worth a look if you want a creepy collection to while away a night. In the end, the collection didn't please me so much because I really crave the suspense more than the horror, however, I think the writing here is incredibly talented and will probably hit the spot perfectly for many horror fans.
~ Ana Mardoll
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