Shifting Sands by Emma Palova
Imagine a Venn diagram. Each circle is a distinct segment of life. Now, add to each sphere the spice of fiction. The result is an entertaining glimpse into how reality and imagination might overlap. In this collection of thirteen short stories, Mrs. Palova was able to draw on her own experiences from life, then fill in the gaps by crafting diverse voices to share tales of small-town Americana. By all accounts, fictional, these stories focus a spotlight on society from the insulation of imagination. After reading, I was left asking, “I wonder how much of that is real?” That pull of wonder, from the reader in me, is a tremendous vote of confidence for the work.
I enjoyed “In The Shadows” for its gentleness in examining recollection and truth. Walking down memory lane is sometimes bittersweet. Taking that journey with an adult child can invoke emotions that perhaps we aren’t prepared to endure. This story was touching for the reflection a special place can show us. We are reminded that sometimes, the words we don’t say can serve as a strong legacy, as well.
The eerie experience of “The Death Song” satiated my desire for a curiosity that illuminates secrets we may not expect. This was my favorite of the collection. The details of this story were foggy in some places, and extremely precise in others, which kept me on my seat’s edge as I waited for the final curtain. I was not disappointed. However, it does make me wonder, what was the inspiration for this story? Was it just a pantomime of possibility in a moment of dreamy shadow, or perhaps a validation for the deed actually done? In either case, the layers of mystery here were delightful to read.
Not all of the stories connected with me, as is to be expected with a short story collection; but the bulk of them did. I read this book in its e-book format and found some flaws in the formatting and a few editorial mistakes. However, those minor issues did not detract significantly from my enjoyment of the collection, overall. I am interested to read what else this author has to offer.
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