Family drama can be found anywhere: in kitchens, in cafes. Derelict hotels, showground rides. Even dungeons far below ruined Hungarian castles. (Okay, especially in Hungarian dungeons.)
Old family fights can go on forever, especially if you’re undead. If an opportunity came to save someone else’s family, the way you couldn’t save your own, would you take it?
Your family might include ghosts, or zombies, or vampires. Maybe they just have allergies. Nobody’s perfect.
Family history can weigh on the present like a stone. But the thing about families is, you can’t escape them. Not ever. And mostly, you don’t want to.
Published by Twelfth Planet Press.
I purchased this book.
Showtime by Narelle M. Harris is the fifth volume in Twelfth Planet Press’s Twelve Planets series. The stories in this volume aren’t linked, in terms of settings and characters, but they do contain some thematic linkage, in that they all deal in some way with families and feature supernatural elements.
The first story in the collection is Stalemate. This is a deceptive story, which on the surface features a mother and daughter confronting one another in a kitchen. There’s an emotional gutpunch that I didn’t see coming (and frankly, didn’t want to, since I think knowing going in might have ruined some of the impact of the story), and a very clever ending. Really liked this one.
Thrall takes a tonal shift, and can be summed up as the story of an ancient vampire facing the modern world. I loved so many of the details in this one, with lots of twisting of vampire mythos, and I loved Erzsebet in particular.
The Truth About Brains takes another shift, this time taking us firmly back to modern Australia, and features both magic and zombies (and also zombies in Australian summer, which ew). The grounding of the characters in this one is fantastic, with the teenage protagonist’s voice absolutely spot on.
I looked forward to the last story in the book, Showtime, because it takes place in the world of, and features characters from, Harris’s novel The Opposite of Life (which if you haven’t read, you should). Again, Harris manages to twist “known” monster mythology, and her vampires are truly her own. You can definitely read this one on its own if you haven’t read The Opposite of Life, but I’d recommend reading them both, just because the fictional world of the book and story are so much fun.
This is a quieter collection than the previous Planets, and feels more grounded, especially in terms of the characters, who all feel very much like anyone you might pass on the street (with perhaps the exception of Dragomir from Thrall. I hope.). I enjoyed all of the stories, and I feel that they are all great examples of Harris’ talent with characterisation and subtle twisting of supernatural mythologies to create new worlds.