Lost in the Shadows by Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey

LOST
Lost in the Shadows by Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery, Horror, Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (300 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review ed by Astilbe

Welcome to the Shadows:

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

How would you choose the right path if you had limited information about your options and an extremely short period of time to decide what to do?

Some answers to this question responses come in the form of extremely short stories, others focus on how it is people find ideas or what happens when you make a big mistake. The authors’ creative approaches to the topic, especially the ones that personify certain aspects of the writing process, sucked me into this book.

Angel’s dazed reaction to an extremely dangerous situation after a car crash in “A Choice” is one of the highlights of Lost in the Shadows. She has a limited amount of time to make a life altering decision, and her level-headed reaction to what happens to her after the crash made me wish I could keep following her after the plot wraps up.

Occasional missteps are found in tales like “The Empty Table.” Calliope has a dangerous secret that she has so far hidden from her boyfriend. When he invites her parents over for Thanksgiving dinner, though, she worries that they will pick up on the clues about her past Calliope can’t hide. The premise was excellent, but I didn’t understand why Calliope and her boyfriend had such poor communication skills given information about their relationship that surfaces later on in the plot. Expanding stories like this one into novellas would allow them more space to explain background information that was sometimes so sparse I had trouble understanding what was really going on.

At first I thought that “Downing Street” could also use more exposition. The idea of anyone taking advantage of Halloween to cover up a crime is chilling, but once I read it again I quickly came to appreciate the slithering horror of only knowing half of the details. “Downing Street” is so short it could almost be classified as flash fiction, but it quickly became my favourite entry in this collection.

There were also a handful of tales that felt out of place in a primarily science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthology. For example, “Almacide” explores an urban environment from the perspective of a seed who was expecting to sprout in a clean, rural garden. The premise was interesting, but the sermonizing tone of it was a poor fit for this particular collection.

What surprised me the most about Lost in the Shadows was how seamlessly everything fit together. It isn’t easy to blend two different writing styles together, but Ms. Janel and Ms. Roddey make it look effortless. Within a half dozen pages I was slipping from one adventure to the next without realizing that they were written by two different authors.

I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish Lost in the Shadows. This is a solid anthology that I would recommend to anyone who likes well-paced, genre-blending short stories.

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