Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016

Full Color Edition

Fiction - Literary
410 Pages
Reviewed on 12/12/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite

I stood in awe of the amazing writing skills of William H. Coles in Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016. This collection of short stories will not leave you with that fuzzy feeling of happy endings, but you will view humanity in times of our darker acts. Each mesmerizing piece touches a raw nerve that leaves you questioning choices that were made. After each story, I was thinking “this is the one is my favorite” until I finished the next story. I am left inspired as I dig deeper into my own thoughts of how I would have handled the dilemma these characters faced. Speaking of the Dead was the most thought-provoking story to me, but everyone left its mark in my thoughts.

It is hard to explain the depth of writing put into Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016. William H. Coles has mastered the art of drawing his readers into the story and leaving them to ponder the road his characters traveled, and for some the price they would pay for freedom. Since all the pieces are short, they go by quickly, and each has its own topic and theme. The main thought throughout the book would seem to be the path traveled when the truth is revealed. The characters face speaking kindly in an unkind situation, putting their life before a broken child, keeping faith in themselves when others believe the worse, and people facing their greatest adversary. Overall, every well-written story touches on your core belief in people and the path one chooses in life.

Ruffina Oserio

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition by William H. Coles is a gorgeous collection of short stories and novellas, with beautiful illustrations. The characters are exceptional, each featuring a complex protagonist in a challenging situation, from teachers to parents, to the disabled, to mothers, and others. The stories have central themes and situations of conflict that leave readers asking questions about life, human dignity, abuse, murder, hope, loss, family, parenting, and forgiveness. These stories are the finest work from an author who knows so well how to portray human nature in the writing craft.

The “Gift” is one of my best stories and it follows a young girl’s pregnancy and the callousness with which the mother handles the situation, sending her to a nunnery in France where she gives birth. The child turns out to have multiple abnormalities. But this child is “the gift” who eventually changes both the life of the mother and the grandparents. First, the stories are realistic, with characters that are enjoyable and believable. The craft is masterly and the author weaves suspense into the short stories, making them page-turners for readers. It is interesting how much is written in a few pages and how the author builds tension. I am familiar with William H. Coles’ novels, which are enticing and hugely enjoyable, but this collection is composed of pearls that any reader will enjoy and will want to revisit. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition is a gift for short story lovers and there is so much for readers to enjoy.

Mamta Madhavan

Who does not like reading short stories? Illustrated Short Fiction: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition by William H. Coles is a collection of entertaining and engaging short stories that breathe life into different characters and varied scenarios. The book comprises 35 short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella with some wonderful illustrations that run through the text. The stories are all unique in their own special way and explore a gamut of human emotions that will entertain readers. The emotions range from depression to hate to decisions to unrequited love to anger to redemption, and they also revolve around other conflicts and dilemmas faced by characters. The stories will help look readers at the human psyche with a new perspective and what makes this an interesting book is that it has something for every reader.

Illustrated Short Fiction: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition by William H. Coles offers good plots and well-portrayed characters that are real and relatable and will resonate with readers. These stories with their messages and different lifestyles will stay in the hearts of readers for a long time. It is quite nice how the characters deal with their challenges, their adversities, and emotions. The illustrations are captivating and all the stories will make readers ponder and lean more towards the darker side of human nature. It is a mature collection with adult content and the layers and dimensions will get readers thinking about the nuances of life in general. It is definitely a collection worth having on the bookshelf, not only for the stories but also for its unconventional approach when it comes to presentation.

Gobi Jane

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full-Color Edition by William H. Coles is a collection of thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella, featuring strong plots and exciting characters in situations that are right for them. Each story is unique, with its plot turns and twists, conflict, and character motivation. The collection features a variety of themes, from dealing with bad choices to parenting. My most favorite stories were “Sister Carrie,” a novella, and “The Gift,” a short story. In one, a sister is taking care of her younger sister after the death of their parents and discovers that she’s been having an affair with an older man with whom she’s bonded on the internet. Can she change the sister’s mind or lose her to a marriage to which she doesn’t give her blessing? In the other, the author explores a mother’s reaction to her daughter’s unexpected pregnancy by sending her away, but what happens with a handicapped child transforms their lives positively.

This is a wonderful collection and William H. Coles knows what it takes to make readers love characters. At times you will find yourself pondering on the choices that the characters make. At times, you will feel for them and wish they did things differently. At times, a deep sigh of relief will escape you as you follow the characters through realistic scenes and situations that compel them to grow or change. The stories are beautifully illustrated and each illustration carries a message of its own. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles is delightful and I loved the author’s ability to write engaging scenes, create characters that are real, and invent a world that readers can recognize.

Rabia Tanveer

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition is a collection of short stories, a novella, and 2 graphic novels in which the author explores humans, their behavior, and how each situation brings out something different in us. From stories that show human beings at their best to stories that show how fascinating humans can be, this collection contains little pieces of us in each of its stories. From The Gift to The Thirteen Nudes of Ernest Goings, each short story is a perfect slice of life. This collection has lighthearted, emotional, and life-changing stories that can very much be the life stories of people we know.

The full-color illustrations make this collection even more realistic. Each illustration gives the reader an idea of what they should expect from the story while it sets the mood at the same time. Each illustrator captures the essence of the stories, their mood and gives them a visual representation. I love that none of the illustrations have the same style and each of them is as unique as the story it represents. As for the stories, I will never get tired of William H. Coles’s narrative style. There is something wholesome and comforting in the way he writes. His narrative style changes with the characters, he offers readers something new and special with each story, and he makes sure they are transported into the story from the moment they pick up any of his books. This collection is no different. I highly recommend Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 to anyone who likes short yet complete stories.

Maureen Dangarembizi

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is an award-winning collection of memorable short stories. These stories are diverse and they are about real people in real-life situations. I loved the grim edge in many of these stories. There are several funerals, deaths but happy endings too. The author is not afraid to show the dark side of human nature and this gave the stories an authenticity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. I enjoyed the artwork that opened each story. The saying 'a picture is worth more than a thousand words' couldn’t be truer. They made me curious to find out what the story was about. There are also two comic-style stories readers will enjoy for their dynamic imagery and great tales.

My favorite story was Sister Carrie, a tale about two sisters who have just lost their parents. And when a Muslim man comes out of the woodwork, claiming Jessie's little sister in marriage, she does everything she can to protect her sibling. It dealt with so many social issues especially prejudice. This story had a twist in the end that I truly enjoyed. I felt sad reading Surchin’s Escape, a story about human trafficking. That story lit a torch in my chest at the injustices women in forced prostitution face. It’s a shame pimps still find men on the street willing to spend money on someone in pain. There are so many stories to enjoy that I know readers will find many genres covered and at least one favorite story. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is well worth the time I spent reading it.

Lesley Jones

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is a collection of 35 short stories, graphic novels, and ending with a novella. The subject matter is as diverse as the characters portrayed. The stories delve into the subjects of life, death, grief, moral dilemmas, separation and betrayal. From an unmarried mother who is morally pressured into giving up her baby by her religious parents, a young Chinese girl facing a horrific future when she is captured by sex traffickers, a couple coming to terms with a relationship betrayal, a man wrongly accused of murder, and a doctor on trial for the brutal murder of his wife. Each of the stories examines resilience, courage and determination when people face impossible decisions and crises. The collection will also compel you to stand in the characters' shoes and inspire you to ponder whether you would act differently if faced with the same situation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this impressive collection and I admired how the author was able to build such great authentic characters and plots in each short story. Many of the stories touched me deeply and could have made full novels in their own right. The narrative flowed effortlessly and the dialogue conveyed such powerful emotions. I especially loved Suchin's Escape; the plot around child trafficking was extremely heartbreaking and her captor's attitude towards a young innocent life was totally chilling. Another of my favourites was Dilemma, as parents decided whether their son should live or die; the subject matter is really moving. Each one of the stories highlights the very best and worse of humanity, the struggles they face in life and their differing mindsets and beliefs on the same subjects. The relationships between the characters were amazing which included mental, physical and moral power struggles. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is a highly recommended collection if you enjoy stories with an unforgettable storyline.

Tammy Ruggles

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition by William H. Coles is a collection of short illustrated stories by an award-winning author who excels at slice-of-life stories about unique people, their personalities, choices, and consequences in extraordinary circumstances. These self-contained stories need no embellishment, but the artwork brings another dimension to them that is entertaining and enlightening--sometimes powerful, sometimes quirky, sometimes abstract. Founder of, an educational site devoted to helping writers develop their craft of storytelling, this author makes you curious enough to read how he himself writes stories and characters. Besides being thoughtful and entertaining, the stories can teach from a master's perspective. With this volume of 30+ stories spanning sixteen years, there is a lot to dive into and is well worth the trip.

Coles' stories have something for everyone, but they go beyond the everyman, everywoman scenarios. Sometimes there are unexpected twists, some irony, and pathos, but they always end with you feeling something for the characters, and maybe even learning something about human nature or yourself. This book is one to treasure and study for years to come, whether you are a writer or not. For writers, you get a real feel for how good a short story can be--a work of art if done right. For a non-writer, you get to bask in the emotions the stories elicit. The artwork is an asset as well, so, kudos to the artist; and the stories in this book would be helpful for students to study in a classroom setting. As both a writer and fan of the short story, I highly recommend Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016: Full Color Edition.

Grace Masso

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is composed of more than 30 short stories, two graphic novels (Homunculus & Reddog), and a novella; it is a collection that makes for a wonderful reading experience. The collection is enriched by eye-catching illustrations that capture the themes and other elements of the stories. It features an assortment of narrative voices; the stories follow diverse characters as they face different situations in life and make choices that are, most of the time, hard. Some of the characters are caught up in dilemmas, some having to deal with wrong decisions. Overall, each story is distinct from the rest, condensed, and written with a protagonist against a strong background.

The collection opens with The Gift, a story of a girl raised in a Christian family, who becomes pregnant. How the mother deals with the unwanted pregnancy becomes the plot point and the conflict that drives the story. In Speaking of the Dead, a man struggles to find words to speak at his wife’s funeral. In Sister Carrie, an older sister struggles to come to terms with her young sister’s choice in love after discovering she loves a man old enough to be her father. Each story is well-crafted, written with a unique emotional edge. William H. Coles's writing is stylish and he has the ability to pull the reader in with a strong one-sentence hook that opens a story, dialogues that are well-written, use of the epistolary style to build plot and explore the characters, and vivid descriptions of scenes. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a collection for fans of short stories and anyone looking for variety in the genre. I found it to be a beautiful offering with a lot of good stories to read and themes to ponder.

Amy Raines

In Illustrated Short Fiction Of William H. Coles: 2000-2016, this collection of short stories will make the reader think about various situations in a brand-new light. Why would a child born with disabilities be considered anything less than a beautiful gift? What could cause a man to be murderously angry at his wife’s exuberant love of life? How would one respond to questions about a childhood tragedy that no one else seems to understand? Is happiness grounds for murder? Can the shadows of one’s past lace their future with unending guilt?

Illustrated Short Fiction Of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 has it all - love, lust, romance, action, thriller, horror, as well as a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. Each and every one of the many characters in this collection has their own unique personalities that are easy to relate to, no matter what they are up to. I absolutely loved The Gift as it sets off this joyride of a book with a bittersweet story about a child that was supposed to be adopted out due to fear of gossip. The Indelible Myth is packed full of emotional tugging as a bullied child retaliates only to be left with bigger problems than being punished over a fistfight. The illustrations are done by various artists and match beautifully with each story. I would be hard-pressed to list my favorite story because they are all so unique and interesting. I can only hope that there will be another round of short stories by William H. Coles in the future.