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Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
Cruel and Unusual: Four Short Stories of Judicial Horror by Erik Dean features four horror short stories that will take readers' breath away. Revisit the inhumane treatment of witches who were tried and burned at the stake in England. Meet Helen and the other witches within Salem Town, facing a cruel and unforgiving end. Can they get justice? In “Judge and Jury,” a ghost comes back to bear witness to crimes that the unjust judges wouldn’t judge fairly. The gangsters may have their way of covering up their crimes, but then things change when a ghost sits in court and becomes unhinged, and will stop at nothing to see justice done.
The four stories are captivating and they deal with capital punishment in its worst form. The writing is awesome. Yes, it is crisp and has something juicy about it, a savory taste that keeps the reader turning pages. Erik Dean comes across as a master in the art of the short story. I enjoyed how he could be detailed without being boring, how he could condense events into short paragraphs without losing the reader, and how each story is built to get the reader into a state of anticipation, pulling them into the dynamics of the conflict and making them hunger for the denouement. This collection is a gorgeous one and it is utterly entertaining. Cruel and Unusual: Four Short Stories of Judicial Horror is a well-crafted book that offers great short stories with compelling characters and pertinent historical references. You’ll read them and won’t want to part with them.