A Study in Shadows by Benjamin Percy
My rating: 4/5 cats
WELCOME TO DECEMBER PROJECT!
this explanation/intro will be posted before each day’s short story. scroll down to get to the story-review.
this is the SIXTH year of me doing a short story advent calendar as my december project. for those of you new to me or this endeavor, here’s the skinny: every day in december, i will be reading a short story that is 1) available free somewhere on internet, and 2) listed on goodreads as its own discrete entity. there will be links provided for those of you who like to read (or listen to) short stories for free, and also for those of you who have wildly overestimated how many books you can read in a year and are freaking out about not meeting your 2020 reading-challenge goals. i have been gathering links all year when tasty little tales have popped into my feed, but i will also accept additional suggestions, as long as they meet my aforementioned 1), 2) standards.
GR has deleted the pages for several of the stories i’ve read in previous years without warning, leaving me with a bunch of missing reviews and broken links, which makes me feel shitty. i have tried to restore the ones i could, but my to-do list is already a ball of nightmares, so that’s still a work-in-progress. however, because i don’t have a lot of time to waste, i’m not going to bother writing much in the way of reviews for these, in case GR decides to scrap ’em again.
i am doing my best.
DECEMBER 15: A STUDY IN SHADOWS – BENJAMIN PERCY
i was very excited to find a qualifying story by benjamin percy. i adored both Red Moon and The Dead Lands, and someday i really need to read all the other books of his i’ve bought and let languish on these overburdened shelves.
this “story” is a tug-of-war between enjoyable and frustrating. it’s a series of loosely organized, occasionally connected vignettes concerning the yearlong studies of dr. harrow—associate professor of psychology at shadewood university—regarding the belief in the invisible.
and they are spooky.
on the one hand, this reminded me of Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Stories of Horror, a fantastic anthology of super-short horror tales, and i would eagerly read an entire collection of percy’s harrow-ing and atmosphere-rich amuse-bouches, my favorite of which is this one:
Here is a story Dr. Harrow enjoyed telling his students.
A mother walks into the bedroom to wish her daughter goodnight. But she finds the girl pale and shivering. “Whatever is the matter?” the mother asks, and the daughter says, in a whisper, “I think there’s something under my bed.”
The mother says, “I’m sure that’s not the case,” but nonetheless indulges the girl by getting down on her knees and lifting the dust ruffle and peering beneath the box spring.
And it is here, in the shadows beneath the bed, that she spies a face. A pale and shivering face that seems to belong to her daughter, who says, in a whisper, “I think there’s something in my bed.”
so good and shivery!
on the other hand, the pick-and-mix of it all feels slightly discombobulated, like a series of notes and half-developed ideas for novels he’d like to write someday all gathered up and sandwiched between a framing device and passed off as a story.
some of it is a little outlandish—the second chonk especially so because, come on—consequences?
still, i love urban legends, and even though i appreciated the parts of this one more than the whole, it’s well worth your time, and i’ll be here crossing my fingers for him to develop this into something even better.
DECEMBER 1: NIGHT STAND – DANIEL WOODRELL
DECEMBER 2: MR. DEATH – ALIX HARROW
DECEMBER 3: THE FRUIT OF MY WOMAN – HAN KANG
DECEMBER 4: THE TINDER BOX – KATE ELLIOTT
DECEMBER 5: BABYCAKES – NEIL GAIMAN
DECEMBER 6: HIS MIDDLE NAME WAS NOT JESUS – NOVIOLET BULAWAYO
DECEMBER 7: SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE – LILLI CARRÉ
DECEMBER 8: DARK TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 9: DARKER TIDE – MARK LAWRENCE
DECEMBER 10: BREAK – MISHELL BAKER
DECEMBER 11: A RUMOR OF ANGELS – DALE BAILEY
DECEMBER 12: THE ENGLISHMAN – DOUGLAS STUART
DECEMBER 13: IT CAME FROM CRUDEN FARM – MAX BARRY
DECEMBER 14: NO MOON AND FLAT CALM – ELIZABETH BEAR
DECEMBER 16: ART APPRECIATION – FIONA MCFARLANE
DECEMBER 17: THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS – SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA
DECEMBER 18: WE HAVEN’T GOT THERE YET – HARRY TURTLEDOVE
DECEMBER 19: THE DUNE – STEPHEN KING
DECEMBER 20: THE WORTHINGTON – EMILY CARROLL
DECEMBER 21: SUNBLEACHED – NATHAN BALLINGRUD
DECEMBER 22: BLOOD DAUGHTER – MATTHEW LYONS
DECEMBER 23: THE LINE – AMOR TOWLES
DECEMBER 24: PIGEONS – NIBEDITA SEN
DECEMBER 25: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED, WHAT WE WILL FORGET, WHAT WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FORGET – EUGENE LIM
DECEMBER 26: ONE/ZERO – KATHLEEN ANN GOONAN
DECEMBER 27: MATINÉE – ROBERT COOVER
DECEMBER 28: ACCESS – ANDY WEIR
DECEMBER 29: UNNECESSARY THINGS – TATYANA TOLSTAYA
DECEMBER 30: HOOK – DANIELLE MCLAUGHLIN
DECEMBER 31: HE’S VERY WELL READ – CATHERINE LACEY
previous years’ advent calendars (what’s left of ’em):
read my book reviews on goodreads