Review: “One Thousand Words for War,” eds. Madeline Smoot, Hope Erica Schultz

Pros: Some interesting stories and ideas
Cons: Doesn’t deliver well; too many “ads”
Rating: 3 out of 5

One Thousand Words for War is an anthology that didn’t do it for me. At its best, an anthology entertains you with its short stories, and hopefully thus allows you to find another author or two whose work you enjoy. Ratings tend not to go through the roof, because not everyone is going to like every story in the anthology. Unfortunately, now there’s a new trend making anthologies less enticing. While it’s true that a good anthology introduces you to new authors and their worlds, a bad one includes stories that don’t stand alone, and which function only as advertisements for an author’s work. Smoot and Schultz did a halfway decent job picking stories, but there are some that definitely don’t stand alone for me. The active theme in this book is war in all its forms; I think the theme is overly vague and resulted in some stories that didn’t seem to suit it well.

I’ll just say a few words about a handful of the stories.

Valerie Hunter’s Shadowland introduces us to a world through three characters who don’t want to be what they should be, and sifts in the details cleverly so the characters come first. Unfortunately the story was very short and ended before any real adventure began. It seemed to me to be focused on introducing readers to the author’s material, rather than pulling together a satisfying package.

Laura Ring’s Unexpected Guests is a sweet little tale of some unusual guests, and the ways in which the famed Sindhi hospitality changes the course of an event. Short, but it felt complete within itself.

Darrel Duckworth’s Beyond the Promised Land appealed to me. We see a view of heroes in Valhalla fighting new battles every day. Then one day, a man decided to go beyond the bounds of his promised land to see what comes next.

Sarah Lyn Eaton gives us Jar of Pickles, in which we get to see the swift, unexpected ways in which the world can change–and end–in the small moments.

Lisa Timpf’s In Other Words tells the story of how several young people from two different races avert a war with common sense and curiosity.

Cathy Bryant’s Maverick seems very short and presumably does introduce us to her writing in general, but despite being quite short it does a fantastic job of giving us just enough story to invest in and take satisfaction from. It’s one of my favorites from this anthology.

Hope Erica Schultz’s Where the Death Storms Blow felt a little incomplete, but it was enough to intrigue me and make me want to read more of her work.

 

You’ll find war and peace of all different kinds in this book. If you don’t mind having a few incomplete-feeling stories then you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did. At any rate, it certainly has introduced me to a world or two that I hope to read more about.

 

NOTE: Book provided free for review by publisher.
Expected publication date: May 1, 2016

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