Prickly Pears

A Collection of Short Fiction

Fiction - Anthology
205 Pages
Reviewed on 07/11/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Isabelle B.L is an author and TEFL teacher based in France. She was born in Australia to Sicilian parents. Her short pieces can be found in various anthologies and literary journals worldwide. Though she has written a novel, she much prefers to work on short fiction and prose poetry.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Isabelle B.L brings readers a stimulating collection of flash fiction and poetry with this enthralling anthology, Prickly Pears. A swarm of butterflies converges upon a fiery lamp to witness a moth's fatal attraction to its glow culminate in its ultimate end. A young golden-haired girl helps her mother with the chores of their family farm. A woman reminisces about her childhood when she was the unintentional partner in crime due to her mother's kleptomaniac tendencies. Working on a research paper, a woman tracks the history of Sicilian women using her recently deceased grandmother's old orange jam jar. A woman is chronically haunted by the words and experiences of her mother-in-law that seep into every aspect of her daily life. A child finds a kindred spirit in her elderly neighbor, who she wishes was her grandma in real life.

Isabelle B.L delivers a deeply personal yet universally relatable flash fiction anthology collection that evokes powerful emotions in the very depths of your soul. Using poetic storytelling and surrealism, Isabelle transports readers into the minds of believably vulnerable and human characters who navigate the challenges and struggles of life in the most extraordinary ways. A certain abstract quality to Isabelle's writing opens the door to interpretation. As a reader, it makes you contemplate the true meaning behind each tale and poetic piece. This anthology collection explores the human condition through the perspective of a person's memories, life experiences, and view of the outside world. Overall, Prickly Pears is an emotionally resonant and inspiring anthology collection that I will highly recommend.

K.C. Finn

Prickly Pears: A Collection of Short Fiction is a work of fiction in the anthology, family drama, interpersonal relationships, and emotional writing subgenres. It is better suited to mature readers owing to some difficult exploration of sensitive subjects such as eating disorders and domestic violence. Penned by author Isabelle B.L, the work features several vignettes in short story format plus sections of lyrical prose poetry, all of which touch on themes close to the hearts of many women in particular. From mother-daughter relationship strife to diverse representations from religion, philosophy, and personal voices, this work takes a broad view but ultimately comes back to core themes of hope, love, and enduring trauma to rebuild and grow stronger.

Author Isabelle B.L has produced a stunning collection of very personal, cathartic, and effective works that really feel as though you’ve been given a piece of her soul to look after and meditate with as you read her work. Although some of the themes sound like tough reading, the easy, ethereal narrative style lets the different emotions flow without them ever becoming too heavy or overwhelming to read on. It’s this wash of feelings that strikes a common chord among the different tales and poetic moments as the author demonstrates a skill for creating an atmosphere around her characters that tells us everything we need to know about their inner turmoil, but also their resolve and faith in a better tomorrow. Overall, Prickly Pears is a highly engrossing anthology of short fiction that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to one and all.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Prickly Pears is a collection of pre-published short stories and flash fiction pieces by Isabelle B.L. The author delivers short works with historical fiction, romantic, and mysterious elements, and literary pieces. The author describes images and objects that seem to be unrelated until she brings them together at the end of each story. The stories cover a range of topics but seem to focus on mental health and relationships. The author shows viewpoints from different ages and animals in her characters, detailing how a guarded nature can develop from external and internal forces and the actions and words of others.

With deeply literary themes, Isabelle B.L will move you with short pieces of her work. She transports you into a new atmosphere or another perspective in the brief time it takes to read one of her works. One of her stories has been nominated for an award, and it is easy to understand why. War references, female empowerment, a related criminal duo with a hint of repetition until the cycle is ended, and delicately chosen words are detailed with a silver-edged pen. Readers can easily become immersed in her words, reading and re-reading the lines and gaining new insight each time. The material flows as if you’re reading poetry instead of a short story. Busy individuals who like to absorb short but nostalgic or relatable fiction should read B.L’s easily digestible work. Readers who enjoy flash fiction and short stories with profound meaning will enjoy Prickly Pears: A Collection of Short Fiction.

Juan Lynch

Prickly Pears: A Collection of Short Fiction by Isabelle B.L is a thought-provoking read. This anthology explores a variety of themes such as life, death, aging, marriage, family relations, religion, and mental health. Each entry shares an intriguing perspective on reality. The titular story Prickly Pears is about a young child experiencing the terrors of World War II in Italy. The child learns from the prickly pear that one can have a sweet and kind interior but it is better to have a rough exterior ready as a defense against threats. Apart from fruits, the author employs animals, objects, and the harsh realities of life to teach important life lessons. This compilation of short stories inspires appreciation for life and compassion for those who are hurting.

I enjoyed reading Prickly Pears by Isabelle B.L. Several of the entries regarding marital issues reminded me of why it is so important to be extra careful with whom you choose to get romantically involved. Religion is mentioned on occasion although it is specifically viewed in a Christian context. I loved the story Please Explain, My Lord, which is about a cow mourning the loss of a friend, sacrificed to appease God for the murder of a man. I was forced to put myself in the cow’s position and reflect on how I would address God concerning the seemingly unnecessary evil in the world. I appreciated the author’s writing style. Her short stories are well-paced, and her poems made me want to read them twice. I recommend this collection to everyone looking for absorbing short fiction.

Essien Asian

They say a story can tell a lot about a person but when that story comes from the heart, be prepared for the unexpected. Isabelle B.L has put together an anthology of short stories and poetry that reflect a combination of the inner workings of a beautifully gifted mind and her experiences. Growing up in Italy during the Second World War, a woman struggles to deal with the unusual nature of abuse by a loved one. Familiar issues that one encounters when growing up in a family situation are all aired for discussion in this interesting piece of work which is aptly titled Prickly Pears: A Collection of Short Fiction.

Prickly Pears is an intriguing compilation of short stories by Isabelle B.L. The initial impression is that the subject matter is a patchwork quilt of random topics but as you delve deeper, it becomes obvious they revolve around issues of a delicate nature that reflect a deeper appreciation of life in general. The curious thing about this collection is that despite being written as prose it reads like well-worked poetry. This gives it a unique appeal to those who have an appreciation for the spoken word. Isabelle's storytelling technique weaves a deceptive layer of innocence around the stories. It takes an inquiring mind to be able to read between the lines and uncover the disturbing yet thought-provoking sections touching on abuse and infidelity that are discussed so subtly. This work will leave you asking questions about so many things that you take for granted.


This is a wonderful collection of Isabelle B.L’s latest short stories. What I particularly enjoyed from this collection is the way Isabelle B.L invites the reader to reflect about reality through fiction on topics such as domestic violence, religion, animal welfare and gender identity. I also loved the cultural references to Sicily and Australia, throughout the collection and Isabelle B.L’s poetic and literary writing which makes Prickly Pears pleasant to read. “The house that James built”, “Grandma’s flowers”, “The Jam Jar”, and “Happy and Sad” are among my favourites because of the emotions they arouse in the reader’s mind and their originality. For example, “The house that James built” shows the struggle of someone who is different, who does not fit a mould but who is also resilient and does not let other people define them.