The Outsiders Anthology

The Outsiders by Stephen Bacon, James Everington, Gary Fry, V.H. Leslie, and Rosanne Rabinowitz
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (98 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

a Suspense Thriller / Horror featuring the gated community of Priory, with its cult leader Charles Erich and his followers, including those who want to overthrow him, and those who’ll do anything for him. Is that which they worship the true evil, or does evil reside in them?

Inside Priory awaits a lot more than meets the eye. The people might seem friendly, but only because their enigmatic leader Charles Erich accepts nothing less.

The cottages within this gated community seem simple enough, and even though what lurks beneath them is more ancient than mankind itself, can anything be more evil than the people worshipping it?

If you dare follow this UK invasion of five prime authors as they each tell their own story of the people living behind Priory’s steel gates and high walls, you’ll quickly find yourself an outsider, as well.

Stories by Stephen Bacon, James Everington, Gary Fry, V.H. Leslie, and Rosanne Rabinowitz.

The Priory. A community of one mind and purpose. A place of order, commitment, peace, and service. A perfect world, building on mind shattering secrets from beyond the pale. Enter…if you dare.

Anything can happen behind a security wall, especially when what lurks behind it is so well-hidden.

Lee introduced the reader to this secretive community in “The Subprime.” As a man stuck in a job he finds morally objectionable, he was ready to turn in his resignation when his boss invited him to Priory for an sociable evening. While I figured out the twist early on, it was still worthwhile to see how everything unfolded because the author spent so much time setting it all up precisely.

“Impossible Colours” followed a police officer named Michala Bruce as she attempted to find out what happened to a man who had recently moved to Priory. Her perspective as someone who lived elsewhere was fascinating, although the inclusion of more than one narrator was distracting for something this length. Had it only been written in Michala’s voice, this would have been my favorite tale of them all.

What I found most intriguing about “Stolen from the Sea” was how much time it spent on character development. No one is entirely good or evil, so it was interesting to get to know certain characters from a point of view that I hadn’t considered yet. It’s hard to discuss this in any detail without giving away spoilers, but I was pleased with how much time the author spent showing why and how these individuals made certain decisions.

Petra and Bernard’s shifting relationship as a newly retired couple in “Precious Things” piqued my curiosity. It could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel, although it worked equally well as a short work. I also liked how the plot provided a few more hints about what was going on, especially since some of them were introduced so subtly.

There were a few things about “Meat, Motion, and Light” that I had trouble understanding. Claudia grew up in this community and has begun to question some of the things she experienced during those years. Some of the memories she shared with the reader seemed to contradict what we’d been taught earlier. I was never quite sure if I’d misunderstood the rules earlier or if Claudia’s interpretation of them was supposed to catch me off guard. It would have been helpful to have more details about this as I was otherwise fascinated by her account of what happened.

All of these stories are set in the same universe and involve the same general group of characters. I should note that the introduction to this anthology, “Welcome to Priory,” contained some spoilers. While it provided valuable information about how and why Priory was first formed, I probably wouldn’t have read it until I’d finished “Stolen from the Sea” had I known ahead of time that it would giving me so many hints about what was to come.

The Outsiders is a mystery that knows how to flirt heavily with science fiction. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys either genre.

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