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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.