This is the second half of my review for Between These Pages, a short story anthology by Catherine MacKenzie.
The first half of Between These Pages was good, but the second half is definitely my favorite. With respect to the other authors I’ve reviewed, Between These Pages is probably the best book by an independent author that I’ve read over the course of this year. It was well-written, and contains a lot of interesting topics, especially the half I’m about to review.
Quota: This interesting story stood out almost as much as Island Lovers, but, being a fan of science fiction, I enjoyed this one more. This sci-fi story could best be described as a population-control horror story (if such a genre ever existed). A man must fill his quota of death, or else.
Between the Good and the Bad: This is an erotic story about a character (Vanessa) that is a cross between witch and vampire. The main character uses her abilities to kill people who she believes deserve to die, because they are evil, or to end their misery. One of my favorites.
The Mannequin: One of the most memorable stories in the entire book, a wife pretends to be the mannequin that was created in her likeness in order to catch her husband having an affair.
Molly Mulligan: This is a story about secrets. Molly Mulligan has a family secret, and her children want to know the truth.
Afterword: In one of the more tragically compelling stories of this book, a woman kills her husband, assuming he was having an affair on her. This story is extremely well written, and memorable.
Trapped in the Swallow: A man and wife go on vacation to New Zealand, and one of our main characters finds herself stuck in a sinkhole.
Tart Thorns among Silken Threads: This is a story about a woman who continues to marry men, and kill them, to inherit their possessions and live a life of luxury.
Footprints in the Snow: Catherine MacKenzie pushes boundaries with this story about a controversial topic. A woman once requested to be put out of her misery if her illness took away her quality of life. Will her husband live up to his end of the bargain? Will she still want him to when the time comes?
Blood Dreams: An old woman claims that her caretakers are draining her blood, but people think she’s delusional. The marks on her body are real, but what about the bats flying overhead?
Who would like this book? Previously, in the first half of this review, I said Between These Pages was geared toward women. That remains true for the second half as well. However, Catherine MacKenzie has written a book that can be enjoyed by a variety of different readers.
Here are some of my personal reactions to the second half of Between These Pages:
“Afterward”: This was the story that had me on the edge of my seat.
“Quota”: The first, and only, science fiction story in the book. I was happy to see something from the sci-fi genre in this book, and even happier to see how well it fit in with the rest of the stories.
“Between the Good and the Bad”: I’m not an expert in the commercial success of books, but if I could make a suggestion to Catherine MacKenzie it would be MAKE AN ENTIRE SERIES BASED ON THIS CHARACTER! The main character of this story, Vanessa, is sexy, violent, and already has a great story. She’s a witch and a vampire. She’s a renegade who kills people based on her own judgment. She’s sexually promiscuous without shame or apology. Vanessa, in my opinion, could sell a lot of books.
“Footprints in the Snow”: This is my favorite story in the entire book. The story evokes strong emotions of what it means to be alive, and what it means to experience the process of dying. Cathy MacKenzie tells her story as a work of fiction, but the real-world implications are hard to ignore.
Between These Pages was an excellent read. Support Catherine MacKenzie by downloading her book, and let her know what you think of her stories.
Email Catherine MacKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Hicks recently released Flashlight Stories, an anthology of short stories that are meant to terrify. The book is only 99 cents until after Halloween. Get the first story free (plus a flash fiction introduction) with any sample download. Enjoy!