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Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite
A charging Charolais bull drops dead in its tracks for no apparent reason, leaving one of the survivors questioning its bizarre demise in the eerie short story, Suspicions by Jenny Twist. Lenny may work in a bank all week, but during the summer he is a part-time hippie. Discarding his suit, donning his bell-bottoms, and toting his guitar, Lenny enjoys his weekends at the nearest folk festivals. His friends, James and Kitty, live in a commune and bring their handcrafted items to sell at the festivals. The hippie couple has five children; the youngest of these is Gwendoline. Lenny is intrigued by this tiny, reticent child who resembles Alice in Lewis Carroll's Adventures in Wonderland. Unlike the rest of her family, Gwendoline is immaculate and refined. Her demeanor seems unnatural to Lenny and gives him the impression that there is something more lying beneath the tranquil surface. When a charging bull falls to the ground at six-year-old Gwendoline's feet, Lenny becomes suspicious. Did the animal die of natural causes? Or is there some other-worldly force functioning?
Written by award-winning author Jenny Twist, Suspicions is a succinct short story with a preternatural undertone. Although quite short, it is a cleverly written narrative with a nineteen-sixties historical setting, nicely developed characters, and a clearly defined and provocative plot. I was captivated the moment Gwendoline is introduced. There is something about her that is uncanny and frightening. In her innocence, Gwendoline is reminiscent of the young girl Charlie in Stephen King's 1984 science fiction horror movie, FireStarter. Those who love stories with a chilling theme will not want to miss this one.