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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
An unexpected treasure handed over from an ex-spouse via the divorce lawyer; a classic mother-son bonding experience on a roller coaster ride; tragic tales of survival of ordinary Cuban citizens in the 1960s; a paranormal happening in the Museum of the Weird, the Sad, and the Wretched; and a complex murder mystery – all of these stories in one volume. The Fish Tank and Other Short Stories by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra reveals life stories in the raw with a compassion for reality and the fantastical.
Maria Elena is a marvellous storyteller. She presents her narrative with overwhelming descriptive power and unexpected and surprising twists and turns. The plots are cleverly orchestrated with characters that come alive with compassion, both good and evil. Her protagonists are strong and endearing, particularly in her Cuban stories which depict an era of unspoken horrors and frightening scenarios. The suspense leading up to the climax pulls the reader along on a roller coaster ride filled with adventure to a climax that certainly doesn’t disappoint - it rather fills the reader with a sense of awe as the reader realizes the power behind the narrative and the unusual path that the author has followed. The resolution reaffirms the author’s intent: to provide the reader with a certain “wow” factor in the story itself. From suspense, to romance, to real-life stories from the author’s own past, the finely tuned craft of the short story is clearly evident in this collection. Each story is engaging, thought-provoking and memorable. This is clearly an author who writes with style and with class.