Death and Other Survival Strategies

Fiction - Anthology
144 Pages
Reviewed on 09/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

A bridesmaid learns that fulfillment of even the most innocent wish has consequences. The spouses cut a good bargain to deal with the unexpected results of using their newly bought microwave. A meeting with a doppelganger reveals the protagonist's life troubles. A mother works hard on her beloved son's Halloween costume, contemplating how time flies. A five-year-old casts a spell on her mother. A love for open fire can be useful when you try to avoid your past at any cost. Death and Other Survival Strategies by Carolyn R. Russell delves into these and many other topics, presenting a delightful short story collection for fans of literary and microfiction, short prose, fantasy, and suspense genres.

Death and Other Survival Strategies stirred a range of emotions in me. I was eager to learn the endings of Carolyn R. Russell's short stories and simultaneously scared to discover how everything had turned out. Full of dark humor, "Fairytale Wedding" became my favorite story in this collection. Although these short stories belong to multiple genres, including horror, many of them explore the issue of motherhood, like "All Hallows' Eve." Survival is another theme this collection surveys. In the intriguing "Border Town," a realtor is well aware of the dark sides of her profession. "Seventeenth and Clay" speaks about the solitude in the crowd and will resonate with psychological prose lovers. Carolyn skillfully crafts her multilayered characters and prepares many unexpected twists in the plotlines to impress us. The author's microfiction reminds me of quick impressionistic sketches, where reality merges with dreams.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Death and Other Survival Strategies is a collection of short stories by Carolyn R. Russell. The tales have themes of mystery, death, and infidelity. Get shocked by a wedding murder mystery, travel with the spirits of twin sisters trying to find their dead mother’s remains, prepare to go trick-or-treating with an actual monster, or venture with a man moving from one world to another. Join all these characters and more in these creative stories that will take you on a wild ride through space and time. The dark nature of the stories and their frightening plot twists will leave you with shivers down your spine. The author mentions modern topics like abortion, the pandemic, and the #MeToo movement in her stories. Get a copy of this book to experience these tales for yourself.

I enjoyed Death and Other Survival Strategies because it was suspenseful, intriguing, and entertaining. The genres range from realistic fiction, sci-fi, murder mysteries, and supernatural to the paranormal. I am in awe of Carolyn R. Russell’s creativity and ability to grab a reader's attention. Only a person with a vivid imagination can write as many unique and thought-provoking stories. This book does not lag at any point. Instead, it captivates you from start to finish. The combination of dark themes and realistic situations was fantastic because it makes you wonder if this happened to someone or if it might happen to you. The sinister characters were well-written and intriguing. They start as normal people, but with more information, you realize they are more than ordinary. I highly recommend this collection to anyone who loves reading sinister and death-themed short tales. Great work.

Alma Boucher

Death and Other Survival Strategies is a collection of short stories by Carolyn R. Russell. A daughter is helping her mother choose between different academies. The mother has cancer, and they both do their best to contain their tears. A friend makes a wish for the dress of her dreams in Fairytale Wedding and gets a killer dress. In Bargains, a husband is given a choice between chicken and salmon. He chose salmon, and it turns out he liked water. He is swimming while watching his wife dance around the living room on the other side of the glass. A bride needs to be measured for her special wedding dress, but her measurements have already been taken in Something Blue. In Coda, plans were made for the next day but did not include the person making them.

The stories in Death and Other Survival Strategies are compelling and provocative. Carolyn R. Russell created worlds that felt familiar but with an underlying sense of fear, death, and desire. This short story anthology was thoughtfully put together. It was a tapestry of engrossing stories that stretched the limits of my mind. It was wonderful to let my imagination run wild and form a picture of the story I was reading. I interpreted each one differently and found myself fascinated throughout. Each story had a distinct plot and characters that matched perfectly together. The characters were brilliantly developed, and I enjoyed the variety of them. This collection was excellently written and exciting to read. I will remember this literary journey for a very long time.