Beyond: A Short Story Anthology of the Paranormal by Lara MacGregor

Beyond: A Short Story Anthology of the Paranormal by Lara MacGregor
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (102 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

This is an anthology of paranormal short stories, including a time-traveling cat, trips to the astral plane, ghosts, time-skipping humans, a sentient rumor gone wild, reincarnation, and a prankster god and his animal goddess sister.

Weird is a complimentary term when it comes to these genres. Who wouldn’t want to be surprised by a plot twist!
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Normally, I’d discuss stories in a short collection like this individually. Due to fact that all eight of them were pieces of flash fiction, however, I will only be mentioning the ones that I can talk about without giving away spoilers.

A set of brilliant quadruplets were the main characters in “The Invention.” Each one of them excelled in a different specialty, and they were now ready to come together and share their knowledge after all four of them had completed their PhD studies. I really liked the enthusiasm of these characters. They were so determined to use their knowledge and intelligence to change the world. With that being said, they were written in such a way that made them seem much younger than their actual ages. They were as impulsive as young teenagers at times for reasons I never understood. It would have been helpful to have an explanation for this whether it involved them being at least a decade younger than I assumed or their behavior being a side effect of their many gifts.

As someone who deeply dislikes setting my clock forward and back for Daylight Savings Time twice a year, I was immediately drawn to the idea of this having unforeseen consequences for Helena, the protagonist of “The Weird and Wicked Daylight Savings Mystery.” She was so shocked by what really happened when she moved her clock ahead one hour that I couldn’t wait to find out why her life changed so much between evening and morning. The explanation for that was interesting, but I do wish it had been explained in more detail. It felt rushed to me, especially once Helena began to dig deeply into why her memories of her old life so contradicted her new one.

Before you read any more of this paragraph, stop and savor the humor in a title like “The Hamster Who Outsmarted the Prankster God.” It’s a splendid foreshadowing of what is to come in this tale as a prankster god named Adeben met his match in the furriest and least likely of all foes. This was by far the best part of this collection. It was funny, unpredictable, and filled with twists that made me grin.

Beyond: A Short Story Anthology of the Paranormal should be read by anyone who enjoys short and delightfully odd science fiction.

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