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Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite
As D.L. Rhodes notes, speculative fiction is a mixed bag of genres that includes but is not limited to horror, science fiction, fantasy, magic, and just plain weird and otherwise unidentifiable themes. In The Woods, Dark & Deep is all that and more. For older readers, think of The Twilight Zone on steroids! Short story collections or anthologies inevitably create issues for audiences as there will be stories they love, those they hate, and some that are just blah. Of course, there are exceptions, and this is one of those exceptions in that every tale in the collection is exceptional. Primary characters are exquisitely designed, true to form according to the storyline, and believable, regardless of how unbelievable they may seem compared to real-life characters.
Most reviewers of short story collections invariably follow one of two paths; a line or two describing and rating each story or an overall appraisal of the author’s skill at characterization, plotting, and creating verisimilitude in a setting and storyline that has no connection to reality as we know it. I prefer the latter approach. D.L. Rhodes excels in characterization. Regardless of how unreal and unbelievable the situation is, the lead characters hold it all together and move the storyline forward with their sense of realism. Several stories are based on the sciences of biology and mycology, others focus on magic, mindfulness, mental health, spiritualism, and mysticism, and the prose used in every story is far above ordinary. In all cases, Rhodes has studied or done extensive research into these subject matters to create realistic, educating, entertaining, and above all, mind-blowing narratives.