Sunday 31 October 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

Author/poet/journalist Gabriel Hart compresses twenty pieces of his most turbulent 'world-burning' fiction spanning 2015-2020, including the previously unpublished American nightmare Artificial Midnight and Skattertown.

I'm a sucker for short story collections, though I seem to have an annoying habit of acquiring more than I ever get around to reading. An invitation to take a look-see at Gabriel Hart's debut collection was too good an opportunity to turn down. At least, I would actually feel compelled to read them!

Twenty stories and an author introduction where Hart explains the origins and timespan of this collection of work, some of which have appeared previously in anthologies and at literature sites I'm familiar with; Close To The Bone, Shotgun Honey, Bristol Noir, Pulp Modern and more than a few that I've never heard of. Most of the pieces were written during the author's 2020 Covid Lockdown.

For my sense of completism the full TOC is ....   

Straight to the Bone  
The Distant Prince 
Spun Pendulum  
Church of War 
Black Pit Blues 
The Gutter Runs Internally  
Wino’s Shadow 
Bottom’s Up 
The Space Between Two and Three 
Dear Diana Ranswell (Mom)   
Wrath Child’s Atrophy  
Kept Change 
Process of Elimination 
Closed for Take-Out 
The Visitor    
Artificial Midnight  
The All-The-Way House 
The Lonesome Defeat of Bridge Repair    

Relationships, sex, therapy, confession, super-dogs, drugs, intoxication, suicide, an Amy Winehouse wannabe, death, loss, grief, drugs, experimentation, consumerism, gender identity, a hit and the sub-contract, a mother's wisdom, Covid panic - guns, toilet rolls and a life of fear or not, dystopia - drugs, gangs, big business, economics

I really enjoyed the collection. Not every story did it for me. Maybe I rush read certain sections of the book at times, rather than reading them a bit more leisurely and thinking about the meaning of each tale. Maybe life's too short! I did like Hart's writing style though and none flat out had me scratching my head.

My favourites were Dear Diana Ranswell (Mom), Skattertown, Process of Elimination and Church of War. Gabriel Hart is an author I'll be keeping an eye out for in future.

4 from 5

Read - October, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 178
Source - review copy courtesy of Blackthorn Book Tours
Format - Kindle


  1. It sounds like a wide-ranging and interesting collection, Col. And some of the story themes are appealing. There's definitely something to be said for a writing style that keeps the reader engaged!

    1. Agreed Margot. There's some variety here too.

  2. I have that same annoying habit of buying more short story books than I can ever read. And especially on the Kindle. At least I don't mind reading short stories on the Kindle.