Beyond the Fence: A Short Collection of Stories by Marilyn Horn
Publisher: Thinking Ink Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (46 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
The worlds in Marilyn Horn’s stories are sometimes dark, sometimes surreal, and sometimes both—and yet not so unfamiliar. No matter how fantastic the world, loneliness is the enemy, connection the goal. The stories in this short collection will haunt you and comfort you long after you finish the last page.
Don’t blink. You might miss something.
In “Don’t Mind the Vet,” Bettina’s mother convinced her to take the mother’s sick dog to the veterinarian. Before Bettina left, though, her mother gave her a strange and incomprehensible warning. What I liked the most about the plot was how long it waited before offering any kind of explanation about what was going on to the audience. That delay made me curious to know what would happen at the vet’s office and why the mother said what she did. It was a lot of fun to come up with possible answers while I was reading.
There were several stories in this collection that needed more development. Their concepts were fantastic, but I struggled to figure out what they were trying to say to the audience because they were so short and mysterious. “So Many Shoes” was a good example of this. The narrator had been working on a complicated and longterm shoe project for reasons that weren’t revealed right way to the audience. While I was fascinated by the idea of anyone paying that much attention to shoes, it would have been helpful to have more information about the narrator’s backstory and why they picked this particular project. The hints that were provided were so subtle that I wasn’t always sure if I was understanding them the way the author wanted me to.
Jeff D. Karnes had been waiting for ages for his better half to show up in the afterlife in “Soul Mate.” What I found most interesting about this tale was how Jeff reacted to his previous lifetime. It wasn’t at all the reaction I was expecting him to have, but it did show me many sides of his personality that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. This could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel, although it worked really well in the short story form.
I’d recommend Beyond the Fence: A Short Collection of Stories to anyone who enjoys flash fiction.