Short Take: “The Craving,” Steve Hudgins

Pros: Halfway-decent action
Cons: Awkward style; ‘meh’ twist
Rating: 2 out of 5

Steve Hudgins’s novella The Craving introduces us to The Man in Black, who wakes up in a rainy field with no idea of who he is or what he’s doing. He swiftly develops a painful craving, however: to kill. When he ends up saving Becky’s life by killing her attackers, she takes him to her friend Paul for medical help, since he was injured in the fight. Soon all three of them find themselves on the run from mysterious assailants, and caught up in a strange project.

I can’t say I like the style. All dialogue is done with script tags, which is jarring. There’s a reason why that works for scripts and not novellas/novels: you have an actor to bring the words to life. You don’t have that here. The descriptions are very bare-bones, making things rather uninteresting. And there are some seriously awkward wordings. (“In a fast and quick manner…” has to take the cake. I’m still shaking my head at that one.)

The ending gets pointlessly surreal, in a manner that doesn’t mesh well with the earlier material. There’s some halfway-decent action, but the pacing is hampered by the spare nature of the writing. The characters–especially The Man in Black–have only a little depth to them.

Ultimately, I really can’t recommend this one. But if you aren’t sure, at least it’s short enough that it won’t take up much of your time.

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