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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Returning to Center: A Collection of Stories, Vignettes, and Thoughts is a work of fiction in the anthology, martial arts, and spirituality subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Billy Ironcrane. In this collection of intricately penned and thought-provoking tales, the author seeks to bring a sense of harmony and balance to his readership. Set largely in the world of martial arts, the different tales explore how people shift and change, molded by the experiences that the wider world gives them and the lessons they learn along the way. Different “master” and “student” figures come forward in each episodic tale as they make sense of their purpose and challenges in life.
Author Billy Ironcrane has crafted a collection of interesting tales that, once you really settle in and think about them, offer a kind of meditative escape from the hubbub of the busy world around us. There’s much to learn about the physical practice of martial arts in the details of some of the tales, but beyond this is the strong focus on philosophy, thought processes, and spirituality to be found in discovering who we are and being at peace with ourselves. Every reader will find something that speaks to them in this volume, and for me, I especially enjoyed “The Riddle of Okano,” which was very short but powerfully impacting, almost fairytale-like in its approach. Overall, I would recommend Returning to Center for short story fans seeking a unique approach to an anthology and martial arts enthusiasts looking to make a deeper connection with the sport and themselves.